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FreeThinker

A Royal Injustice

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Greetings. I've been absent from the forum for a while, but I feel outraged and I must vent somewhere.

It wasn't enough that poor King Richard III had worms, a hideous deformity, was bashed to death in the skull at the Battle of Bosworth Field. and then left to rot under a parking lot (excuse me, a car park) in downtown Leicester. Now three judges have decided to let his remains remain where he was killed rather than letting him come home as all brave soldiers should. York clearly has a stronger claim to his remains than Leicester and Her Majesty should intervene (if she is actually allowed to make any decisions anymore beyond where she lays her head at night and which brand of gin she drinks--oh wait, that was her mother). Yes, he foully and mercilessly killed his nephews after imprisoning them in the Tower of London, so he might deserve the ignominy of Leicester. I've never been to Leicester, though I understand it's a delightful place. Still, it seems cruel and disrespectful. Then again,perhaps not. No one knows where Edward V and the then Duke of York are, so perhaps Richard deserves Leicester.

Of course, I'm a Yank, but I feel I have a right to butt into this argument as, according to Ancestry.com, my ninth great grandfather came to The Colonies in 1724. So there.

Speaking of the Princes, one of my favorite works of art is John Everett Millais' famous "Princes in the Tower." I was attending an exhibition of work from the Royal Holloway collection when it came to the Philbrook Museum in my hometown a few years ago and was delighted to stumble upon it. Well, I didn't exactly stumble upon it-- I'm certain the docent would have escorted me out after collecting the appropriate information of where to send the bill for the damage-- but I spent probably twenty to thirty minutes sitting on a bench before it, remembering how I had fallen in love with the boys when I was fourteen. (Unfortunately, my love for the painting in 1971 was more hormonal than artistic). It's much larger than I had anticipated and I had never noticed, in all the pictures of it in books I had seen, the sinister shadow descending the stairs behind Richard, the Duke of York. I now understand the reason for the look of concern and fear on the boys' faces.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Princes.jpg

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A matter of opinion. A few points:

(a) If Richard had been buried at Dadlington church near the battlefield, as most of the casualties were, I doubt if anyone would be urging his reburial at York or anywhere else. It was Henry VII, who as the victor had the authority to decide, who had him buried in the Greyfriars at Leicester. If Henry VIII hadn't done away with monasteries and thus made the poor king homeless (as it were) the archaeologists would have put him back where he was, and still nobody would be urging his reburial elsewhere.

(b) The people who brought this case were the Plantagenet Alliance, a very recent body - sorry, pressure group - and with much less clout that the Richard III Society, a fan club which has existed for almost a century and is happy to leave him at Leicester. The Alliance was appealing against the licence issued to the archaeologists, before any remains were found, by the Ministry of Justice (so can it be an Injustice?); which laid down that any bodies must be reburied in the nearest consecrated ground, namely Leicester Cathedral which is a hundred yards or so away.

© Anyway, Richard may have been Duke of York, but as far as I know he never lived there, any more than the current Duke of York does. The new tomb, wherever it is, is going to be a tourist magnet. York has plenty enough tourists already - too many, one might say. Leicester doesn't, and deserves them. Let him stay in Leicester.

(d) The princes Richard is supposed to have murdered (but you really shouldn't believe everything Shakespeare wrote) are supposedly in Westminster Abbey. Back in sixteen-something they found two young skeletons under a staircase in the Tower of London and, assuming they were the poor innocents, they tucked them up in the Abbey. Trouble is nobody's allowed to look at them to check their DNA.

(e) Did you know that Leicester has revamped the signs in its car parks by adding "no burial of dead monarchs"?

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It has been a theme throughout my life that comments and statements I say or write get misinterpreted or are misunderstood. I have a dry, some may say nonexistent, sense of humor. I have frequently made outrageous statements with a straight face to my family and friends only to realize that, even though I'm laughing hysterically on the inside, they think I'm serious. I suppose the failure is mine for not writing clearly enough or framing my comments in ways that would let them know I am joking or being facetious. I thought my posting about Richard III was so off-the-wall and silly that it would be perfectly obvious my tongue was in my cheek. Perhaps its the same with my stories. I've gotten such a sparse response to my WIcked Boys sequel that I am sure people have misunderstood what is happening and that it appears the story is about one thing when it is about the exact opposite. It's my failure as a communicator, I suppose, either in writing or in real life, that I don't get my messages across in a clear way.

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I don't think historical figures need to be buried on the spot where they died. The very nature of history allows their memory to persist, and if famous enough the ground they occupy is hardly relevant. Graveyards contain monuments and by the time they are erected the dead little care where they lie.

It is a silly part of our US history that some think Lincoln is buried under the Lincoln Memorial while others think George Washington is under that tall spire on the Washington Mall. No, the memorials make us remember these figures, their bones would not. So Richard III may remain where he is and all this talk about his bones will keep his memory alive.

But thanks, FT, that portrait of Princes in the Tower contains some strong emotions and great beauty once the viewer understands what it is all about.

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And here I've always been worried that poor George was being crushed by that phallus.

Stick to your guns, Free Thinker. This is one Yank who doesn't fancy making a tour bus pilgrimage to a car park.

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