The Queen has paid tribute to Richard III as the remains of the last king of England to die in battle were laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral today (26 March).
A coffin containing the Plantagenet monarch’s mortal remains was taken to the cathedral to receive burial after they were discovered beneath a car park in the city in September 2012.
In a written message in the order of service, the Queen said: “The reinterment of King Richard III is an event of great national and international significance.
“Today we recognise a King who lived through turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him in life and death.
“The discovery of his remains in Leicester has been described as one of the most significant archaeological finds in this country’s history.
“King Richard III, who died aged 32 in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth, will now lie in peace in the City of Leicester in the heart of England.”
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch was due to read a 14-line poem entitled Richard penned by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
It comes after scientists said they believe the Oscar-nominated actor is a distant relation of the king.
The link was revealed by Professor Kevin Schurer, who was instrumental in proving the identity of King Richard’s remains.
Prof Schurer 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 indirect links to both Queen Elizabeth II and Lady Jane Grey through other ancestors in his tree.”
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, said today’s service would be “solemn, but hopeful” and mark the “extraordinary moment” in English history that Richard’s death represented.
A piece of music has been written for the occasion by the Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir, while Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy penned the poem entitled Richard to be read by Cumberbatch. The poem is described as a meditation on the impact of the discovery of Richard’s remains under a council car park in 2012, and the legacy of his story.
It includes the line, “grant me the carving of my name”, in reference to carvings on his tomb which read Richard III, together with his symbol, the white boar.
Ms Duffy said: “It is a privilege to be involved, in a small way, in this unique event.”
Cumberbatch is a second cousin of the king, 16 times removed, experts said. The link was revealed by Professor Kevin Schurer, who was instrumental in proving the identity of King Richard’s remains after they were found under a car park in Leicester.
It has been estimated that between one million and 17 million people in the UK are related in some way to the last reigning Plantagenet - although not as closely as the actor.