Its one of the biggest mysteries in English history and in fact world history, who was responsible for the death of the two Princes in the Tower? While it seemed to many that the answer to this question would never be known, one Philippa Langley is preparing to crack the greatest of all cold cases.
Philippa Langley is best known as a historian and screenwriter who spearheaded the campaign to find King Richard III, a feat which she achieved in 2012 after an archaeological excavation was carried out on a Leicester car-park, on the site that was once occupied by Greyfriars Priory Church. The ‘Looking for Richard’ project was a resounding success and after examinations it was revealed that the skeleton found by Ms Langley and her team was that of Richard III. The last Plantagenet King was honoured with a reburial service at Leicester Cathedral, fit for a medieval English monarch.
As if finding a King wasn’t enough for Philippa Langley, she is now taking the helm at the heart of an investigation in to the mystery of the Princes in the Tower.
Following the death of his father, Edward IV, Edward V and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, were taken to the Tower of London. While Edward was expecting his coronation, the accession never occurred and the two young boys never left the Tower of London. The circumstances surrounding the death of Edward and Richard have been heavily debated in the five centuries that have passed since their demise.
Details of the new investigation were announced by Philippa Langley at the celebrations marking the 530th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth last weekend. Ms Langley commented, ” I have three key lines of investigation- two that have never been investigated before. There are a couple of European lines of inquiry that are looking very interesting. We do know that Henry Tudor tried to destroy all copies of Richard’s legal right to the throne, the Titulus Regius. What we don’t know is how much of the other paperwork he destroyed quietly behind the scenes. We’re hoping that further destruction might not have taken place on the Continent. There might be more information available over there.”
The investigating team will be putting together a research document in the coming weeks before the official investigation begins. One area the team will be forbidden from investigating however is the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey. It is said the remains of the two princes have been interred at the Chapel after the discovery of two children’s skeletons in 1674 during the reign of King Charles II. The Church of England, with the support of Her Majesty The Queen, has repeatedly refused requests to exhume the remains in order for forensic tests to be carried out.
Philippa Langley continued, “We now have this incredible network of specialists around the world who are willing, ready and able to start new researches into the princes. They just need to be told when, where and how and they’re ready to get on with it.”
Ms Langley will be teaming up with professional cold case investigators, some of whom work with the police on unsolved murders. She concluded, “This is a pure research project and its exciting in that we can go in to it with a focus on this particular mystery.”
Over history, many suspects in the Princes in the Tower mystery have come to light and don’t just include King Richard III. Henry VII and his mother , Margaret Beaufort, both had something to gain from the demise of Edward V and Prince Richard. Henry Stafford and Sir James Tyrell are also suspects.
Photo Credit: Samuel Cousins [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons