There has been yet another development in the plans to rebury King Richard III later this year. A recent petition started to have Richard III’s remains taken to a Catholic chapel will soon be handed to church leaders for deliberation.
Following the discovery of Richard III’s bones in a car park in Leicester in 2012, it was announced that the late King would be buried in Leicester Cathedral. However, this decision has now started to raise some opposition. Leicester Cathedral, which is to be his final resting place, is an Anglican cathedral, which is where the problem arises.
King Richard was killed in battle in 1485, nearly half a century before the Reformation in England, meaning that, at the time of his death, he was a devout Roman Catholic and an active member of the Catholic Church.
Campaigners are insisting that King Richard be buried in the Catholic manner – a way that would have been familiar to him in life. The petition, which is requesting that the Plantagenet ruler be buried at Westminster Cathedral in London, has managed to raise over 3,000 signatures in the past six weeks. The Archbishop of Westminster, His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has agreed to receive the petition for the transfer.
King Richard’s remains are being held at the University of Leicester. This too is a matter of dispute, as the Looking for Richard team, the group of people who brought about the discovery of the remains, insist that an early agreement with the University means that the King’s bones should be released to them. However, this has not been possible, as the University is restricted by the terms of the exhumation licence.
Philippa Langley, the leader of the Looking for Richard Project, had this to say:”It seems this former king and head of state is to be treated as a scientific specimen right up to and including the point at which he is laid in his coffin.”
Mrs Langley is the one who prompted the search for Richard III’s remains in Leicester, after more than seven years of research on the controversial King. She is actively involved in the petition, which has garnered great interest thanks to her efforts.
“The Looking For Richard Project was about giving King Richard what was denied him in 1485,” said Dr John Ashdown-Hill, the historian who helped identify the remains of the last of the Plantagenet Kings. “This was to include the same rites and rituals as Richard accorded to the dead in his own lifetime.”
Dr Ashdown-Hill has also donated a crown and rosary for the reinterment. The rosary, which was recently blessed at Clare Priory, will be placed in the late King’s coffin.
Leicester Cathedral and the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham said the decision to bury the king at the Cathedral has the full support of the Catholic Church. They issued a joint statement, in which they addressed the issue over the burial: “There is no requirement in the Catholic tradition for prayers to be said at the coffining of human remains, including those of a monarch. The arrangements agreed between the university and the cathedral have the full support of the Catholic Church.”