I've gotta say, I find this story ghoulishly amusing. Where to bury the late king of England? Consider this-- he's been resting for the past 528 years, the last 20 of them under a paved parking lot, in Leicester England and nobody gave a hoot. He was, for lack of a better description, spot 22 in a 300 vehicle mall parking lot.
Let me capsulize for you. We're talking about the late, great King Richard III, the same one Shakespeare wrote his famous play about. Not a complimentary overview of his life but hey, he was renowned enough to be immortalize by the bard himself.
During his reign there was a civil war in England known as the War of the Roses. No, not the Kathleen Turner/Michael Douglas/Danny DeVito pic. This one played out for real. The final victory went to Henry Tudor, who defeated the last Yorkist king, Richard III. Henry then married Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth of York to unite the two houses. The House of Tudor subsequently ruled England and Wales. Had Richard III won that war, we might have York style homes instead of Tudor. But that's another story.
According to The World Report:
Richard was deposed and killed in a battle near Leicester in 1485, and quickly buried without a coffin in a now-demolished church in the city, which is 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of London. A skeleton found under a Leicester parking lot last year was identified as the king through DNA tests, bone analysis and other scientific scrutiny.
I guess the discovery of a long-lost ancestor could stir up some emotions, but really now, enough to start of a War of the Roses part Deux? Well, this true tale has the makings of such a battle.
Progress has its obligations, and nothing can take the place of a new parking lot so something has to be done with the old king's remains. The city of Leicester wants to build a museum and capitalize on the money making potential of displaying his majesty's bones, perhaps a little less majestic than in his day of rule.
Richard's closest relatives differ on what should be done.
The government gave Leicester Cathedral a license to rebury the king, but the relatives' group wants him interred in the northern England city of York, claiming it was Richard's wish.
Yes, Richard's wishes must be taken into account. Now who is this close relative and how does he know the late king's wishes? Why, he's:
Michael Ibsen, the 17th great-grandnephew whose DNA was matched to the skeleton found under the parking lot. He said the case "involves the remarkable, and unprecedented, discovery of remains of a king of England of considerable historical significance, who died fighting a battle which brought to an end a civil war which divided this country. The obvious duty to consult widely arises from this singular fact alone."
I guess it doesn't get much closer than a 17th great-grandnephew for knowing Richard's wishes. Hmm, I'll just have to say that the good/bad king didn't leave a will or he would have been taken back to the family plot after the war.
So what's really at stake here other than history? Money.
The University of Leicester, whose scientists led the search for the king's remains, said it was "entirely proper and fitting that the remains of Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, be buried in the magnificent holy setting of Leicester Cathedral, near where his remains had lain for centuries."
Of course. Why not keep him near the parking lot where he was paved over years ago, long after he was forgotten? After all, Leicester was such a fine guardian of the deceased since his passing.
Leicester is hoping for a tourism boost from its association with the king, and is building a 4 million-pound ($6.3 million) visitor center near the spot where his remains were found.
The city is hoping to rake in some money with curiosity seekers willing to pay to see the old king. All that stands in their way is the Plantagenet Alliance (the King's relatives) who are threatening to take this case to court based on the tentative finding that Richard III can stay in Leicester.
The alliance had no immediate comment on the ruling. The Ministry of Justice said in a statement that it would "vigorously contest" the legal challenge (by the family), if it goes to court.
Well, only time will tell. But it just goes to show you that you must always keep your eyes open when you go shopping. You never know when or where you'll be parking your car on top of some king or queen. They say along with royalty comes privileges. Say, come to think of it, King Richard III was the hunchback King. Does that mean his spot in the parking lot was "Handicap Parking Only?"