Reinterment of King Richard III - Statement from the University of Leicester

This note sets out the University of Leicester’s position on the location of the reinterment of King Richard III.

In August 2012, at its commencement, all parties involved in the search for King Richard agreed that, should Richard be found, reinterment would be at Leicester Cathedral.

When human remains were discovered, the University of Leicester applied for an exhumation licence from the Ministry of Justice. Our application makes it clear that, if Richard was found, his remains would “be reinterred at St Martin’s Cathedral Leicester”.

The licence (granted before identity was confirmed) grants permission to the University of Leicester to exhume the remains, stating “The remains shall, no later than 31 August 2014, be deposited at Jewry Wall Museum or else be reinterred at St Martin’s Cathedral or in a burial ground in which interments may legally take place”.

The licence was granted to the University of Leicester and makes the University responsible for the location of reinterment. Our decision was, and remains, that Richard III should be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral for the reasons outlined below.

On 4th February 2013, following confirmation that Richard III had been found, the University, together with Leicester City Council as owner of the land on which the discovery was made, wrote to the Acting Dean of Leicester Cathedral asking the Cathedral to commence planning for reinterment.

We do not propose to alter this plan because:

The plan for reinterment in Leicester Cathedral was clearly stated and unambiguous at the start of the project.

Reinterment on the nearest consecrated ground is in keeping with good archaeological practice. Richard has lain in the shadow of St Martin’s Cathedral, Leicester, for over 500 years.

The landowner (Leicester City Council) gave permission for the excavation of the Greyfriars site on this basis.

We also note that York Minster issued a statement on 7th February supporting the “wish of the Chapter of Leicester that Richard should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. The Chapter of York commends Richard to Leicester's care and to the cathedral community's prayers”.

The City of Leicester has strong connections with Richard. There are schools and roads named after him. The City is marked by plaques and references to his time in Leicester and Leicestershire.

You can read our statement on the Cathedral's proposals for Richard III's grave here.


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