Let battle begin: should Richard III have a State funeral at Westminster Abbey?

- Dan Cruickshank says State funeral would be ‘splendid’

- But royal historian Hugo Vickers said Richard should stay in Leicester

Historians today called for the remains of Richard III to be buried alongside other monarchs in Westminster Abbey.

They believe a State funeral and reinterment at the abbey would be a more fitting honour for one of England’s most controversial kings than a planned burial at Leicester Cathedral.

Researchers this week solved a 500-year-old mystery by confirming that remains found under a car park in Leicester were those of Richard, who died aged 32 in 1485 in defeat by Henry Tudor in the Battle of Bosworth.

BBC TV presenter Dan Cruickshank told the Standard: “My feeling is that a royal funeral at Westminster Abbey would be splendid. To lose a king is pretty damn careless but when you find him not to give him a proper ceremony and burial would seem deeply remiss. It is an astonishing discovery given the unlikelihood of him turning up.

“A State funeral would be a real moment to reflect and ponder the person - another way of bringing another bit of remote history back to life.”

Historian Andrew Roberts said Richard should be buried alongside 17 other monarchs in Westminster Abbey. “The bones of the last British monarch to die in battle must now be treated with dignity and venerated properly, as is only right for a former head of State,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.

Dr Suzannah Lipscomb, senior lecturer and convenor for history at AC Grayling’s New College of the Humanities in London, said: “ Monarchy has a special status in this country and by burying him in Westminster Abbey we would be treating those bones with the proper decorum.“We would also be taking him away from the place where he suffered his greatest defeat and was then humiliated. It would be a nice way to redress the balance.”

As Richard III has already had a funeral, it’s really only a matter of re-interring the skeletal remains with ‘due dignity and respect’ in, as per the conditions of the license issued for this excavation, Leicester Cathedral. I can’t envisage the MoJ allowing him to be reburied elsewhere, but who knows, stranger things have happened! The MoJ certainly has prior form in chopping and changing its mind as to what is considered appropriate in terms of the excavation and retention of archaeological human remains, so I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens…You can read more on this story here and if you feel particularly strongly that Richard should remain in Leicester, you can put your name to a petition here!

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