by Tony Jones

AN academic and a screenwriter who were instrumental in the discovery of Richard III’s remains have said the Queen was fascinated by their story.

The Queen presented Edinburgh-based writer Philippa Langley and historian John Ashdown-Hill with MBEs for spearheading a campaign to locate the Plantagenet monarch in 2009, eventually tracing him to a car park in Leicester.

Speaking after the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony, Ms Langley, said: “The Queen was fascinated by the whole project. She asked if we always thought he was buried in Leicester and I confirmed we did.

“I said once we’d gone into the research, the car park looked like a real possibility, it was a hypothesis, but a real possibility.

“She said ‘Yes, to find a king in a car park is not an everyday occurrence’.”
The remains were unearthed in September 2012, and they were confirmed as those of Richard following a wealth of evidence gathered from historical documents, skeletal details and DNA samples, which matched those of his distant living relatives.

A legal battle over where he would be laid to rest followed after a group representing his descendants lobbied for him to be buried in York.

Eventually the funeral went ahead at Leicester Cathedral in March, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and several members of the Royal Family attending.
Ms Langley said: “By finding Richard’s remains, it’s been the most powerful counterpoint to Shakespeare and Thomas More, who said he was the hunchback with the withered arm and the limping gait – and we now know it was a complete myth.”

Ms Langley inaugurated the quest for Richard’s lost grave when her ongoing studies into the monarch switched from his life to his death after she visited Leicester, following a suggestion.

She almost had a premonition that his remains were under the car park as she walked around what was rumoured to be his last resting place.