independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Hail the One True King as Richard is unearthed – and Leicester rejoices

WE few, we happy few, to have been born in Leicester are celebrating the discovery of the remains of our One True King, in a car park of a supermarket (or discount-tent, as it was called in the 15th century). "Now is the winter of our discount-tent, made glorious summer by this sun of York!"

All hail, King Richard, our rightful monarch! A curse on those Welsh upstarts, the Tudors, or Twddrs as they were probably known in the accursed and almost vowel-free valley of Llanshagasheep, where girls consort with billy-goats, and their brothers with defanged she-ferrets.

Loyalty to Richard runs deep in Leicester. For decades, the city boasted two splendid technical schools named after him, until, of course, they were abolished by that prating Lancastrian jade, Shirley Williams (Welsh, you note). Every Leicester child would point (tearfully, and with quivering lip) to the Blue Boar Inn, beside the River Soar, wherein our glorious king had slept and then eaten his last meal before departing for Bosworth Field, betrayal and disaster. And thus was a glorious Ricardian future snatched from this world!

The Tudors who stole the kingship of England were by a long way the most violent clan ever to soil a royal throne this side of the Balkans. Henry VII was kept in check by his Yorkist wife, but their son Henry VIII made Vlad the Impaler look like Little Miss Muffet. It was he who annexed Ireland to the throne of England, causing six centuries of grief. His failure to produce an heir – probably due to excessive indulgence in she-ferrets in his youth – led him to invent the Reformation.

When he finally produced a son, Edward, the lad turned out to be a sickly creature, probably because he was repeatedly pinched in his cot by his scheming big sisters Mary and Elizabeth (originally the inspiration for Cinderella's older, ugly female kin). He duly died, as oft-pinched infants often do, and Mary came to the throne. She was called Bloody Mary because of her habit of breakfasting on a vat of Muscovy aquavit and the recently invented tomato juice. Her first deed was to lop off the head of 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey of – where else? – Bradgate, in Leicestershire. Mary spent her reign barbecuing Protestants. She married a Spaniard king, before dying of an Iberian ague. Then Elizabeth placed her impudent and heretical bottom on this seat of kings, and, naturally, soon brought ruin to Ireland also.

After Bosworth Field, Richard's remains had been buried in a friary, which, thanks to Henry VIII, was to vanish a couple of decades later, as did the neighbouring Leicester Abbey, where poor, frazzled Cardinal Wolsey breathed his last. Moreover, it was an utter miracle that the bones of The One True King survived, with, firstly, Henry's destruction of all monasteries and friaries, and secondly, the industrialisation of Leicester. We now know that a 19th century plumber nearly destroyed the royal grave with an unroyal loo directly over him!

Yet more miracles awaited. Firstly, there was the Ricardian enthusiast, Philippa Langley, who some might think was a few amethysts short of a full orb, yet who persuaded a man with a JCB to dig up a supermarket car park, where she thought Richard was buried.

Just try this yourself: pop round to your local Supervalu and say you think Brian Boru's body is buried in the car park, and can you dig it up please? It'll only take a few months.

So where precisely to begin the hunt for Richard? Look, she said, pointing to a letter "R" on the tarmac: start there. And yes, there was indeed an R on the tarmac. How? Why? When? Such impenetrable mysteries! With so many exclamation marks! And the chap with the JCB adjusted his cap, lowered the scoop, and minutes later, there he was, 527 years on, in all his crumpled, skeletal glory: my liege-lord Richard III, rightful King of England and of France, and against all Ricardian expectations, with a deeply curved spine: The Hunchback Of Well I'll be Damned.

Almost best of all, the very last descendent of Richard's family, the childless Michael Ibsen (55) was still alive to provide the only DNA in the entire world that could prove the genetic link.

Meanwhile, Channel Four had sent a clown of a reporter to cover the excavation, sure the entire affair was going to be a comic turn from the provinces, to give its snooty Tudor bosses something to hoot at. But things didn't quite turn out like that: and Leicester University, previously only known because its first president was the father of Richard and David Attenborough, suddenly had its much-deserved hour, basking in the scientific sunlight of global fame.

But throughout, we steadfast Ricardians had remained loyal to the one true cause. The fools, the fools: they have left us our Yorkist dead! And while Leicester holds these bones, Leicester unfree shall never be at peace! Right lads; slope arms! Now on to Granby Street Post Office!

Irish Independent

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