Leicester

Richard III: Leicester Cathedral reburial service for king

Richard III lowered into the ground Image copyright PA
Image caption Richard III was buried in Leicester Cathedral after several days of commemorations

The service to mark the reburial of King Richard III has taken place at Leicester Cathedral.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, presided over the service with local senior clergy and representatives of world faiths.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were among the guests.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, a distant relation of the king, read a poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

During the service, The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, said: "People have come in their thousands from around the world to this place of honour, not to judge or condemn but to stand humble and reverent.

"From car park to cathedral...Today we come to give this King, and these mortal remains the dignity and honour denied to them in death."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The coffin was borne by a guard of honour drawn from successor Army regiments of units which fought at Bosworth
Image copyright PA
Image caption A poem written for the occasion was read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch

A procession and commemoration service are also taking place in York later.

The king's remains were found beneath a Leicester car park in 2012.

Image caption Members of the clergy led a procession out of the cathedral following the service

The archbishop, spiritual leader of the Church of England, delivered a prayer shortly before the reburial took place.

"We return the bones of your servant Richard to the grave," he said.

On writing "Richard", the poem recited by Cumberbatch during the service, Ms Ann Duffy said it was "a privilege".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Countess of Wessex was among guests at the service
Image caption A big screen in Jubilee Square televised the service to people outside the cathedral
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some gathered in Leicester city centre several hours before the service began

The service was attended by 200 members of the public, following a ballot and representatives of those involved in finding and identifying the remains.

In a foreword to the order of service, The Queen said she recognised the "great national and international significance" of Richard's reburial.

"Today, we recognise a king who lived through turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him in life and death," she wrote.

Philippa Langley spearheaded the campaign to find the king led a procession through the city before the morning's service.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Philippa Langley founded the Looking for Richard group to find the former king

Speaking afterwards, she said: "I was thinking about all those years ago when I put the Looking for Richard project together and its ethos, its aim to give Richard III what he didn't get when he died in the field of battle.

"I was thinking 'It's job done'. It really is, we are laying him to rest with full dignity and honour."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Crowds lined the streets of Leicester before the service to rebury Richard

Historian John Ashdown-Hill, who worked with Ms Langley, said: "It was good to get the sort of reverence for Richard that he didn't really get in 1485, which Philippa and I and the Looking for Richard team had been saying all along was what we wanted for him."

The cathedral will fully reopen to the public on Friday when the king's sealed tomb will be revealed.

Image copyright PA / University of Leicester
Image caption The king's skeleton was sealed inside a lead-lined inner casket known as an ossuary last week

In York, a choral evensong was held at the city's Minster, followed by a commemoration service and a procession through the city.

The reburial has not been without controversy. Campaigners who petitioned for Richard III to be reburied in York have described the events in Leicester over the last week as a "pantomime".

While the Dean of York, The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull was addressing the service in the Minster, about six people walked out in protest.

They described it as "Leicester-centric", complaining the event should have been about Richard's connections with Yorkshire rather than the East Midlands.

Richard, the last English king to die in battle, was killed at Bosworth Field in 1485, at the end of the Wars of the Roses.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richard III's remains were found under a car park in Leicester in 2012

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