London - England's King Richard III, whose body was discovered under a municipal car park two years ago, will be reburied next year near where he was slain in battle 500 years ago, Leicester cathedral authorities said on Thursday.
The king's reinterment in the cathedral on March 26 will defy the objections of some of Richard's distant descendants, who wanted him buried in York, his northern power base during his 26-month reign.
Richard, notoriously cast as a Machiavellian hunchback in his namesake Shakespearean play, was the last English monarch to die in battle.
After his transportation on March 22 from the University of Leicester via Bosworth, accompanied by a cortege, Richard will lie in repose for three days in the cathedral so the public can pay their respects before his reinterment.
His death in the battle of Bosworth Field near Leicester in central England in 1485 brought an end to the Plantagenet dynasty which had ruled for 300 years and finished the 30-year power struggle of the War of the Roses.
The whereabouts of Richard's grave were a mystery until his skeleton, identified by a curved spine and head wounds, was found by Leicester University archaeologists, with DNA tests confirming it was indeed the slain king.
A specially constructed, fossil-stone tomb in the cathedral will house the king's body. The coffin will be made by Richard's sixteen-times-great nephew Michael Ibsen, a furniture maker, his only named and confirmed modern-day relative.
“We are now very well advanced in our plans and look forward to reinterring Richard next year with dignity and with honour,” said David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral, in a statement.
The government has allowed the university to reinter the king at Leicester despite the objections of the Plantagenet Alliance that he should be buried in York.
Although Richard was king of England before the Reformation, when the Anglican Church separated from Rome, services surrounding the reinterment will be conducted by the Church of England.
As the king has already been buried with a Christian funeral, albeit a simple medieval one, the cathedral will instead hold three contemporary Christian services.
The cathedral hopes to include in the events other faith communities from modern-day Leicester, which is home to many Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. - Reuters