Leicester Cathedral to stage 'humiliating' Richard III play

Richard III's coffin in Leicester Cathedral Image copyright Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Image caption Richard III was reburied in the cathedral in a limestone tomb after being found underneath a car park in Leicester in 2012

Leicester Cathedral has defended its decision to stage Shakespeare's Richard III a few feet from the monarch's final resting place.

The Richard III Society branded the decision as a "monumental mistake" which would be "humiliating" to the king.

However, the Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester, said the play would be "sensitive" towards him.

He was reburied at the cathedral in 2015 in a specially designed tomb.

The remains of the last Plantagenet monarch were placed under the cathedral two years ago, after they were discovered under a car park in the city in 2012.

Shakespeare's play is critical of the king, calling him a "poisonous bunch-back'd toad."

'Deliberate humiliation'

Philippa Langley, from the Richard III Society, is not against the play but is opposed to it being performed in Leicester Cathedral.

"To perform this play right beside this man's grave is quite frankly, a deliberate humiliation," she said.

"This is not what the great city of Leicester and its people is about."

Shakespeare's Richard III

Image copyright Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • Shakespeare's Richard III is based on Sir Thomas More's unfinished History of King Richard III, which is largely untrue
  • It completes the cycle of plays covering the War of the Roses
  • It portrays Richard as a deformed and jealous villain ready to take the throne
  • Richard III was famously played by Sir Laurence Olivier (pictured) in a 1955 film

Source: Royal Shakespeare Company

The Cathedral has said the show will go ahead as planned in July, despite the criticism.

"King Richard III lies in peace," Revd David Monteith told BBC East Midlands Today.

"What we now know is that he belongs to the whole nation and not just to one section of people particularly committed to his story.

"I've heard most people say how glad they are that Richard III, the Shakespeare play, will be performed here."

The play will also be performed at Peterborough, Ely, Gloucester, Bristol and Salisbury cathedrals in July.

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