All the king’s men: If Richard can’t come to us, we’ll have to go to him

Reenactors fire a 21 gun salute during a service as part of the Richard III reburial at Bosworth Battlefield in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
Reenactors fire a 21 gun salute during a service as part of the Richard III reburial at Bosworth Battlefield in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
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THE EVENTS were in Leicestershire, but Yorkshire had to be involved in saying farewell to a king with white rose connections.

The remains of Richard III, a man with strong Yorkshire links, have returned to Bosworth, where he fell in battle 530 years ago.

Descendants of Richard III, nephew 16 times removed Michael Ibsen, left, and his brother Jeff Ibsen, right, and niece 18 times removed Wendy Duldig place white roses on a coffin bearing the remains of Richard III outside the Fielding Johnson Building at the University of Leicester

Descendants of Richard III, nephew 16 times removed Michael Ibsen, left, and his brother Jeff Ibsen, right, and niece 18 times removed Wendy Duldig place white roses on a coffin bearing the remains of Richard III outside the Fielding Johnson Building at the University of Leicester

But a dignified banner from a Leeds taxi driver and sprinklings of white roses gave the events a Yorkshire flavour.

In a colourful ceremony heavy with symbolism atop Ambion Hill, overlooking the site of the old Leicestershire battlefield, thousands gathered to honour the dead king, some in period dress and battle armour.

Supporter Dr Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society, told the crowd to “remember a man of integrity, who cared for subjects and had their trust”.

He urged them to look anew at the king whose “achievements in his short reign have been over-shadowed by historical myth and Shakespeare’s monster”.

Dr Stone added: “Let us remember King Richard III.

“The good king. The warrior king.”

After a moment of silence and reflection, a 21-gun salute thundered, bringing the smell of gunpowder to the windless field.

The weather obliged, as bright spring sunshine shone down in echo of the words of Shakespeare’s play Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York”.

Earlier in the day, Dr Stone said reports the Queen has prepared a personal tribute to be read out at Thursday’s service of reinterment at Leicester Cathedral were to be welcomed.

Later, white roses were placed by the dignitaries around the sundial memorial which crowns Ambion Hill.

As Richard’s remains were carried away into the Leicestershire countryside by the cortege, his passing was witnessed by the 
passengers in the coaches of a steam train, as its engine sat 
puffing smoke, idling on the tracks.

Earlier, many thousands had packed the narrow country lanes of Dadlington and Sutton Cheney, the village where Richard is said to have prayed before the fight which claimed his life, while there were similar scenes in nearby Market Bosworth.

In Sutton Cheney, Shaun Dixon, a taxi driver from Leeds, had brought a banner saying: “If the King can’t come to Yorkshire, Yorkshire will come to the King.”

He “absolutely” agreed the king should have been buried in his home county, but added: “I’m not here to protest – this is a funeral.”

The king’s grave site had been thought lost to history until archaeologists discovered his skeleton in the remains of an old monastery beneath a Leicester car park. It was at Bosworth where in 1485 Richard fell while fighting Lancastrian forces under the command of Henry Tudor, bringing a decisive end to the Wars of the Roses.