The remains of Richard III, the last English monarch to die in battle (at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485), will be reinterred this week at Leicester Cathedral. Reports show a high turnout for those wanting to pay their last respects: a queue of some 2,000 people stretched its way around the Cathedral today.
The human remains had been discovered under a Leicester carpark in 2012. For a long while, a group claiming to represent the descendants of the King, known as the ‘Plantagenet Alliance’, had sought to have the remains reburied instead at York Minster (he was, so the claim went, Richard of York), but ultimately failed in their proceedings. Last May, three justices of the High Court ruled that the Plantagenet Alliance would be unable to challenge the initial decision permitting the reburial in Leicester.
Since the discovery – and no less since the litigation – there has been much talk of human remains and their treatment under the law, both in the UK and abroad. On 13 December 2013, the Institute of Art & Law hosted a seminar on the topic with the Natural History Museum in London. Legal issues relating to human bodies will also be covered in a forthcoming Institute of Art & Law book. Information will soon become available on the IAL site.