King Richard III’s Funeral: Cry, ‘Usurper’ and cancel the plans?

So now we know. The funeral of Richard III will take place from 22nd to 27th March, 2015, beginning with a procession of his remains through villages on the return route from the site of his death to the Cathedral in Leicester. There he will lie in state for three days prior to the reburial service on the 26th, which will be followed by the public opening of the ambulatory where, beneath a tomb bathed in light to represent the eternal life of the spirit, he will henceforth (I hope) be allowed to rest in peace. The official announcement led to a surprising protest from the For Richard Society, and a rather silly item in The Independent of Tuesday 14th October: ‘Yorkists fear an elaborate King Richard III reburial could reignite the War of the Roses.’ (Tchah! Like this hasn’t happened already – where’s the Indie been for the past two years, Pluto?). Apart from the procession being deemed ‘overblown and inappropriate’ (wot?), apparently the problem is the risk that the king’s remains will be abused; that the route will be lined with anti-Ricardians crying, “Boo! Hiss!” (incidentally, the same kind of risk run by any celebrity, politician or royal personage in the modern world, every time they step outside their front doors). Well… lest members of For Richard hadn’t noticed, we live in a democracy where people are (shock, horror!) entitled to dislike Richard III if they wish; and, since we also enjoy the right to free speech, to express that dislike publicly. Sure, shouting hostile remarks at a passing funeral (any funeral) would show an appalling lack of good manners, taste and respect; however, to the best of my knowledge it wouldn’t be illegal. (Same goes for laying red roses at the feet of Richard’s statue in Leicester. Provocative, certainly; illegal, certainly not). So, should the funeral procession be cancelled just in case this happens? Is there a real danger of it degenerating into a series of bloody brawls between the rival forces of ‘Richard was a good, rightful king!’ and ‘No, he was a usurping nephew-murderer!’? I don’t think so. I suspect this ‘fear’ is being fanned by a minority for whom all Leicester’s plans are an abomination, in an attempt to derail and spoil the event for the majority looking forward to it with keen anticipation. Heck, if a few immature folk with nothing better to do in their sad little lives want to yell ‘Murderer’ or ‘Usurper’ at the bones of a monarch dead for 529 years, let ’em get on with it. It’d say a lot more about them than it would about Richard III, and I trust that the more dignified and respectful majority would simply ignore them rather than kicking their heads in. I could be wrong, of course. If the procession plan goes ahead unchanged, (as I hope it will), Richard’s coffin is mobbed and thrown down, and thousands of people end up hospitalised or dead, I’m going to look a right idiot – whereupon, this being a free-speaking democracy, For Richard Society members will be free to tell me so, loud and clear. Hey ho. Guess I’ll just have to take that risk…

By Helen Rae Rants!

I'm a freelance writer and lecturer, author of non-fiction works on the Battles of Wakefield and Towton, and the risque fantasy series Lay of Angor under my pen-name Rae Andrew. My hobbies are Wars of the Roses re-enactment, archery, walking, reading and cooking; and I'm passionately fond of cats, chocolate and Richard III.


  1. tee hee! alas, I’ll be too occupied with Towton Battlefield Society plans to honour the battle dead at our annual event on Palm Sunday to come down to Leicester that week – will have to make do with watching on TV. 😦


    1. Good for you! …and you’re sure of seeing more on TV anyway. I’ve noticed that TV cameras/equipment have become more and more intrusive setting up in front of spectators at important events.


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