Nerdalicious: Richard III - The Unburied King


While we wait for next month’s judicial review, the university still has Richard’s remains in their custody. There is no certainty that the outcome will ensure he is removed from the University of Leicester, nor that the university will not decide they want to carry out more tests if he remains in their custody for another lengthy period while the battle over his burial place goes on.

“We are talking about royal remains,” Dr. Ashdown-Hill told us. “No other royal remains in England have ever been DNA tested, and no-one would think of attempting such a thing without royal permission. Therefore surely, in the case of Richard III, similar permission should be required in order to conduct extensive genetic testing, based on pulverising bone or tooth samples, of an anointed king.”

Queen Elizabeth II has steadfastly refused all exhumation requests of people buried on her properties. One of the most popular ‘candidates’, in the eyes of the public, would be the remains in Westminster Abbey thought to be the that of Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, the ‘Princes in the Tower’. Recently a request that a royal family member, Henry VIII, be exhumed, was made, in order to test his remains for Kell positive blood type, so his tyranny could be “explained”. In truth, what would these results really explain? The question of ethics is always pushed to the limit by science, in the name of knowledge. But we must ask the question, is this hunger for answers at the expense of disturbing the dead truly ethical?

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