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History of unlucky royal names: Richard


By James William Edmund Doyle - Doyle, James William Edmund (1864) "Richard III" in A Chronicle of England: B.C. 55 – A.D. 1485, London: Longman, Green, Longman,, Public Domain, Wiki Commons

There are many names that are considered unlucky by some, and in royal circles this is something they wish to avoid at all costs. From superstitions to strange goings on during their reigns, Royal Central is taking a look at the history behind some such monikers, and why it is unlikely that we will see them re-used by any future monarchs.

The name Richard has been subjected to many trials of bad luck throughout royal history, from murders to depositions.

King Richard I was born on September 8, 1157 at Beaumont Palace in Oxfordshire, England. Perhaps more famously remembered by the name ‘Richard the Lionheart’, the King had been born in England but spent the majority of his life in France or on crusade. It is believed that he spent as little six months in England as an active monarch and that he used England mainly for financial gain to fund his armies. The king was shot by a young boy wielding a crossbow during a castle siege in France. He asked for the boy to be brought to him and said, “Live on, and by my bounty behold the light of day” before ordering that he be given 100 shillings. The king died on April 6, 1199 from the wound which had become gangrenous. However, the boy who Richard pardoned for injuring him was flayed alive and hung very shortly after the king passed away.

The bad luck linked to the name Richard does not end there…

King Richard II become the monarch at the tender age of ten upon the death of his grandfather, King Edward III, in 1377. His father, Edward, the Black Prince had died the previous year, leaving his young son as heir apparent. Richard II was deposed by his first cousin, the future King Henry IV, after he cancelled Henry’s automatic rights to inherit his father’s title and lands. Henry started an uprising and quickly gained a strong following. King Richard was deposed and imprisoned at Pontefract Castle, Yorkshire where he died in suspicious circumstances. However, it is long suspected that he was murdered, possibly on the orders of his cousin, Henry.

Yet another case of poor fate for the name Richard:

King Richard III has been greatly villainised over accusations that he murdered his two nephews at the Tower of London. The bodies of Edward V and his brother, Richard, known as the Princes in the Tower’s, were never found although according to legend, their bodies are buried under stairs within the Tower. Richard III, the last Plantagenet monarch, was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in the War of the Roses. His body was buried in a church in Leicester, but after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, his grave was lost. In 2012, an archaeological survey was carried out and the body of the king was found under a car park in Leicester.

Today, only Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (Edward Antony Richard Louis), Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and his son Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster have the name Richard somewhere in their full titles, so it is incredibly unlikely we will ever have a King Richard IV.