Sherlock star is Richard III's second cousin according to leading historian from the University of Leicester

Posted by ac555 at Mar 25, 2015 10:44 AM |
Research by Professor Kevin Schürer links Benedict Cumberbatch – who is set to play Richard III in BBC drama – to the former monarch

Issue by University of Leicester Press Office on 25 March 2015

The University of Leicester historian whose genealogy research helped to confirm the identity of the remains found in the Grey Friars car park as those of King Richard III has discovered a direct link between the English actor Benedict Cumberbatch and the former Plantagenet monarch.

Professor Kevin Schürer, who was instrumental in proving the identity of Richard III by tracking down his modern day relatives, earlier in the year revealed a link between Benedict and the King – revealing them to be second cousins, 16 times removed. 

Oscar-nominated Benedict, best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes alongside Martin Freeman, will be taking part in Thursday’s service of reinterment of King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral. He will read a specially commissioned poem entitled ‘Richard’, by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Professor Schürer said: “Benedict is Richard III’s second cousin, 16 removed. He is linked in several ways, but in terms of number of generations, the shortest is via Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville’s grandmother Joan Beaufort. He also has more in-direct links to both Queen Elizabeth II and Lady Jane Grey through other ancestors in his tree.

“It is great that Benedict has the opportunity to take part in Thursday’s ceremony for his distant relative. Having him there will add another dimension to what has already been a momentous week for the University of Leicester as well as the city and county.”

It has been estimated that between one million and 17 million people in the UK are related in some way related to the former Plantagenet monarch, although not as closely as Benedict.

University of Leicester geneticist Dr Turi King, who was responsible for conducting the DNA analysis on the mortal remains of Richard III, added: “We are all related to Richard III in some way, it is simply a matter of knowing the genealogy to understand to what degree. This discovery of Benedict’s link to Richard is very timely as he is playing Richard III and it is great for the city that he is able to come to the reinterment service.”

Benedict will be playing his distant relative in the upcoming BBC series The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, based on William Shakespeare’s imagining of Richard III.

Professor Schürer and Dr King previously worked on the lineage of both Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig as living descendants of Richard III. It was their maternal-line DNA which was used to confirm the identity of the mortal remains. They have now shown that they are both second cousins to Benedict Cumberbatch, 17 times and 19 times removed, respectively.

ENDS

NOTE TO NEWSDESK:

To arrange interviews with Professor Schürer to discuss this research, please contact Ellen Rudge: er134@le.ac.uk

Professor Schürer also conducted geneaological research on relatives of some 20 families who fought at Bosworth.

They will meet, with members of the families directly related to Richard who donated their DNA as part of the identification process (the Somersets, Ibsens and Wendy Duldig) together for the first time – many are distant cousins, separated by generations.

Descendants of opposing sides at the Battle of Bosworth are meeting for the first time at a reception hosted by the University of Leicester on:

Wednesday March 25th

5pm-7pm
Hotel Maiyango
13-21 Saint Nicholas Place
Leicester LE1 4LD

There will be an opportunity to interview Professor Kevin Schürer whose research discovered the Bosworth descendants as well as a number of relatives who are associated with Richard and the Plantagenets or with the Tudors.

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