Richard III dig: MP calls for state funeral

A Leicester MP has called for bones found under a city car park to be given a state funeral, if they prove to be those of Richard III.

The king was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 but his burial site was lost beneath later development.

A battle-scarred skeleton found by archaeologists last month is undergoing DNA tests to confirm it is the monarch.

Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth has said the ceremony should reflect his status and his Catholic faith.

Cleaved-in skull

A team from the University of Leicester, guided by contemporary documents, located the grave within a demolished church.

The skeleton has spinal abnormalities and a cleaved-in skull, that suggest it could be Richard III.

Image caption Wounds on the skeleton match what is known of Richard's violent death at Bosworth

Mr Ashworth said: "I think he should have a state funeral because he is the last English monarch to have died on a battlefield.

"But there are some questions we have to confront.

"He would have been a Catholic, whereas today's monarch is head of the Church of England, so I would anticipate some sort of service which involves both a Catholic priest and Church of England clergy."

Results of DNA tests against descendants of Richard's family are expected in December.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, said details for a possible funeral service would need to be carefully worked out but he felt Leicester Cathedral were the logical choice for the burial.

He said: "My view is that if human remains are found in the location of consecrated ground then there is an obvious case for reinterring them in consecrated ground.

"If this proves to be the body of Richard III, the obvious place would be the cathedral grounds.

"There's been a memorial to Richard III in the cathedral for a long time, referring to his burial in the church of Greyfriars and that's turned out to be, as far as we can see, an accurate account.

"It's very important to us in Leicester. It will be very important, no doubt, to the palace and it's important we get it right.

"I hope it will be an uncontroversial set of decisions and I hope the Archbishop of Canterbury will be supportive of the decisions that are made."

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