British Judge Opens Judicial Review On Richard III Reburial Location
August 17, 2013

British Judge Opens Judicial Review On Richard III Reburial Location

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

A British high court has allowed a judicial review of a decision to rebury the remains of King Richard III at either of two distinct locations. The University of Leicester, which has backed the unearthing and analysis of the remains of Richard III, has claimed them as its own and is planning to rebury the remains in Leicester Cathedral later this year with the support of the government.

The British public, however, want their say as well. As many as 27,400 people have signed a petition to get a formal hearing on where the final resting place of the long-deceased king should be. According to 15 descendants of King Richard, that final resting place should be in York, the northern city that formed King Richard III’s base of power and gave its name to Richard’s family.

On Friday, High Court Judge Charles Haddon-Cave allowed permission for the descendants to challenge University of Leicester’s plans to bury Richard III in the Leicester Cathedral, saying public consultation should have been sought first.

The Plantagenet Alliance launched the legal challenge back in May soon after the Ministry of Justice made the call on what would become of Richard III’s remains. The Alliance, along with Richard III’s descendants, maintains that the King’s wish was to always be buried in York.


While Judge Haddon-Cave allowed for the hearing, he warned both parties against engaging in an “unseemly, undignified and unedifying” legal reoccurrence of the Wars of the Roses.

King Richard III’s death brought an end to the Wars of the Roses, a civil battle between the families of Lancaster and York named after their respective heraldic symbols of the red and the white rose.

Richard III was unearthed 527 years after being hastily buried in an untidy grave with neither shroud nor coffin. After the remains were identified, it was announced he would be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. The Ministry of Justice issued a license on the matter, stating that the king’s remains should be “deposited in [Leicester's] Jewry Wall museum or else be re-interred at [the city's] St Martin's cathedral or a burial ground in which interments may legally take place.”

On announcement that the remains would in fact go to Leicester Cathedral, work was immediately started to make room for a raised tomb for the king. Common archaeological practices typically requires reinterments occur at the nearest consecrated grounds from which discovery was made, meaning Leicester Cathedral was the obvious choice.

But the Plantagenet Alliance is hoping the tides will turn in its favor.

Born in 1452, Richard was the son of Richard, Duke of York. Though born in Northamptonshire, he spent much of his youth at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire. During his reign he visited York several times and funded the fourth floor of the Monk Bar, the city’s 14th Century gateway. He also had planned to build a chapel at York Minister for his body to be buried when he died, reported BBC News.

Judge Haddon-Cave said the reason for granting a review was simple: “The archaeological discovery of the mortal remains of a former King of England after 500 years is without precedent."

"In my judgment, it is plainly arguable that there was a duty at common law to consult widely as to how and where Richard III's remains should appropriately be reinterred," he said. "I grant permission to the claimant to bring judicial review proceedings against the secretary of state for justice and the University of Leicester on all grounds."


While the Plantagenet Alliance states there is a wealth of evidence showing King Richard had wanted his remains to be buried in York, Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby isn’t buying it.

He said he is convinced “the Plantagenet Alliance has no case whatsoever" and hopes the review would bring “a speedy resolution” to the dispute.

It does make sense that “the courts want to rule on this as it's not every day a king is found tucked away in a car park,” he added.

"I think Leicester's case is overwhelming. He died near Leicester, he was buried in Leicester, he laid in the shadow of the cathedral for 500 years and the license granted during the excavation stated he should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral,” said Soulsby. "There are at least a dozen places which had strong connections with Richard during his lifetime but none has a serious challenge to Leicester."

The University of Leicester said it was investigating the latest developments and was confident the courts would find the Alliance’s “claim is without merit.”

The University also noted that of the 1 million people who share a bloodline with Richard III, one of the most significant, Michael Ibsen, whose DNA was used to identify the remains, has supported Leicester’s claims from the very start.


But Judge Haddon-Cave pointed out that the Plantagenet Alliance’s challenge was “clearly arguable.”

According to The Guardian, the judge’s ruling states that the "core submission" of the alliance's case "is that the secretary of state for justice had a duty in law to consult 'relevant interests', including descendants, as to how, and where, the remains of Richard III should be reburied, but he failed to comply with that duty prior to issuing the license or at any time thereafter."

He added that the Alliance had submitted that the “relative interests” were the citizens of the UK who share a direct line of ancestry to the rediscovered body of a historically important former monarch – Richard III.

The judge also noted that there are economic implications to be considered in terms of prestige and tourism.

"The benefit in terms of prestige and increased tourism to the city or place or institution which eventually secures these royal remains is obvious," Judge Haddon-Cave noted. "It is said that the footfall at Leicester cathedral has increased 20-fold since the discovery."

The judge recommended that an independent advisory panel be set up to consult on where the remains should go. He said the rediscovery of Richard III’s skeleton “touches upon our history, heritage and identity,” and added, "The public interest requires that these issues are resolved."