Dr. Crippen and the “Princes” in the Tower (2009)
Ricardians view the 1933 conclusions of Tanner and Wright with considerable suspicion. Tanner and Wright expected the 1674 bone-find at the Tower of London to be the skeletons of two male siblings aged about ten and twelve, because those were the ages of Edward of Westminster and Richard of Shrewsbury in summer 1483, the time of their last proven sighting. However, recent analysis of the conclusions suggest that the bones need not be of two people, male, late medieval at death or even human.
Five’s recent documentary (“Revealed”, series 1, episode 5) provided an intriguing parallel. In 1910, police officers seeking Mrs. Crippen, nee Belle Elmore, searched a house in Hilldrop Crescent, also in London, where she had lived with her homeopath husband, Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen. Inspector Dew and his officers duly found some remains and the pathologist Dr. Sir Bernard Spilsbury pronounced them to be those of Mrs. Crippen. Consequently, Dr. Crippen was arrested and subsequently hanged.
However, new analysis of the remains shows no relationship between the corpse and Belle Elmore’s mitochondrial heirs, traced in her native America. If not her, who could the corpse be? Perhaps Dr. Crippen was short of money and practicing as a back-street abortionist, a procedure that occasionally procured the unfortunate additional death of the mother? Strange as it seems, the fresh and highly pungent remains at Hilldrop Crescent seem now to be male and possibly even planted at the scene – the police could not have missed the smell yet “found” nothing for three days.
Spilsbury was a very authoritative figure, once addressed by a flustered defence counsel as “St. Bernard”, famous for never admitting his mistakes and for eventually taking his own life in December 1947. He very probably erred here – does this not make it more likely that Tanner and Wright did twenty-three years later?