Leicester likely to keep Richard III bones

Feb. 16, 2013 at 12:28 AM
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LEICESTER, England, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Thousands of people have signed an online petition to have King Richard III of England re-interred in York Minster.

While York ranks high in popular support among a list of more than 10 candidates, Richard is almost certain to end up in Leicester Cathedral, the Leicester Mercury said. That's because the British government and representatives for Queen Elizabeth II say the decision is up to the University of Leicester, which excavated Richard's bones from the parking lot that now occupies the site of Greyfriars Church.

Nouse, the student newspaper at the University of York, reported 18,000 people have voted online for York and only 7,000 for Leicester. Richard was the son of the Duke of York and had other connections with the city, governing the north from York under his brother, King Edward IV.

There has been talk of a state funeral at Westminster Abbey, resting place of 17 English monarchs, including King Henry VII, who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

But Leicester seems likely to be the winner. The cathedral, one of the smallest in England, was St. Martin's Church in Richard's day, and only became a cathedral in 1927. The building is almost 1,000 years old, although experts say most of what is visible to visitors is Victorian restoration.

A cenotaph, or memorial, to Richard was erected about 30 years ago in the cathedral. Suggestions have already come in for a tomb.

The Richard III Society, which is dedicated to restoring his reputation, has submitted a design for a simple 7-foot-long sarcophagus of limestone, the stone used in York Minster. The cathedral has scheduled a meeting March 12 to discuss possibilities.

"King Richard needs an honorable memorial of profound dignity and elegant simplicity which is accessible," a cathedral spokeswoman said. "It must fit into the cathedral's architecture and allow people to pay their respects, learn his history and contemplate the meaning of his death."

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