The Sunday Procession (BBC News/ Channel Four)
I write, having watched some of the day live and then the highlights programme. It was moving in many different ways. Sadly, Channel Four decided to utilise Dr. David Starkey again for their coverage and he was even more erratic than usual when he strays from his own area of expertise.
“The Richard III Society has always denied that there was anything wrong with their King’s back”. This is most strange as I have a copy of a widely distributed 2004 booklet (Seeking the real Richard III) in front of me. Part 1d) clearly states that “The story of Richard’s hunch-back seems basically to be a Tudor myth” and “… (but possibly such statements reflect) some slight anomaly in Richard’s physique which could later be magnified into a gross deformity …”. So the booklet, written by one John Ashdown-Hill, accurately predicts the scoliosis in the remains he himself played a large part in locating. According to the Ricardian index (http://www.richardiii.net/6_3_2_ricardian_index.php) there was a June 1978 article “The Deformity of Richard III“, which may have clarified this even earlier. So Starkey is incorrect on this point, whether he knows this or not.
Apart from this, Dr. Starkey referred to the other key player in the search, Philippa Langley, as a “loon”, which is a little less than respectful in those circumstances. He didn’t patronise Dr. Helen Castor quite as much. At the same time, he recited More’s works ad infinitum despite More being only five in 1483, contradicting himself in the narrative and possibly never intending to publish it.
Indeed, when anyone takes More’s work seriously, I check the date but April 1 is still a week away. In some ways, I feel sympathy for one whose long-held certainties are exploding beneath his own feet.However, as Maynard Keynes is supposed to have said: “When the facts change, I change my mind.”.
Instead of repeating long-discredited allegations against Richard III, he should go back to Henry VIII and his 72,000 executions, his own area of expertise. His idol, indeed.
Will the cobbler stick to his last?