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Richard III: Return of the king – to York?
As the face of Richard III is revealed, tourism bosses in the North say he should be reburied in his childhood and spiritual home - not in Leicester Cathedral where the exhumation licence stipulates. So who will win the war of the clauses?
THE world has finally come face to face with the real Richard III – as a battle gets under way over his skeletal remains.
Facial reconstruction experts used high-tech methods to recreate the appearance of the longdead king using a CT scan of his skull.
The image shows a man with a large chin and nose, thin lips and prominent cheekbones – and one shoulder higher than the other .
The bust was created by experts at Dundee University using the remains found under a carpark in Leicester, which have been proved to be those of the last Plantagenet king, killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
Richard III enthusiasts described it as a more pleasant looking Richard than contemporary portraits suggested – and far removed from the image of the coldblooded villain portrayed by Shakespeare.
Darlington-born screenwriter Philippa Langley, who spearheaded the drive to discover his remains, said the most extraordinary moment for her during the project had been seeing the reconstruction.
“For me, when it was revealed and I was looking at his face – the face was no longer the two-dimensional caricature promoted by the Tudors,” she said.
But, as the image was flashed around the world, Richard was at the centre of a new struggle over where his remains should lie.
Plans are already in hand, in accord with the terms of the exhumation licence, to re-inter him at Leicester Cathedral, in the shadow of which he has rested for more than 500 years.
But tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire is among those now clamouring for his remains to return “home” to the North.
Although born at Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire, he spent much of his childhood and formative years in Middleham, near Richmond, and also had links with Sheriff Hutton, near York.
The agency’s chief executive, Gary Verity, said: “We believe that the remains of Richard III should be returned to Yorkshire, his childhood and spiritual home.”
He added: “He has been described as the country’s only northern king and we think it would be appropriate for him to rest in peace in the north.”
The agency has launched a social media campaign, which can be followed on Twitter @welcome2yorks and using #bringhimhome And a petition to the government – epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ petitions/38772 – pushing for the king to be buried in York is also gathering support. So far it has received about 1,500 signatures.
City of York chief executive Kersten England claimed they would host a proper state funeral and she will be writing to the Queen to push York’s case.
“We have a fantastic case,” she said.
“More than that, I think we should seek some collaboration with Leicester – let’s not have another war on this matter.
“Possession may be nine tenths of the law, but we definitely have the moral high ground here.”
Ripon’s Tory MP, Julian Smith, said: “It has been repeated through the centuries that his wish was to be buried in York and, now his remains have been discovered, his wish should be granted.
“No one wants another war over this – we should thank Leicester for discovering his remains, but they should now be returned to North Yorkshire for the proper burial he deserves in the place he wanted to be remembered.
“I will now be writing to the University of Leicester and Ministry of Justice, who granted the licence for the exhumation, to make this case.”