Your RDA of Irony

Where To Plant-a-genet?

Who wants the body of Richard III?  In death as in life, there would be more of a demand for Charles II.  His skeleton may yet have some aphrodisiac powers, and some Chinese billionaires might bid for that “enhancement.”  Poor scoliotic Richard is no one’s idea of a dietary supplement.  So, without such marketing allure, the site of Richard’s grave is largely a matter of etiquette.

The obvious answer might also be the most tactless one:  Westminster Abbey.  The Plantagenet family already occupies a number of sepulchres there; given that precedence–and the fact that he no longer takes up much room–Richard could be stuffed in some nook.  If Richard has to posthumously become an Anglican, it is only a formality.  He probably already is a Mormon.  No, the problem for Westminster Abbey would be the likely disapproval of its most prominent parishioner.

Although Mrs. Mountbatten seems an affable soul, she might not appreciate being reminded that she is from the bastard branch of the Lancasters.   Her ancestor Henry VII was certainly mindful of his dubious pedigree; to justify his seizure of the English throne, the new king’s first act was to vilify the late Yorkist king.  In a bill presented to Parliament, Richard was condemned for tyranny and usurpation.  The legislation also set the beginning of Henry’s reign to the day prior to the battle of Bosworth Field.  Through that remarkable casuistry, Richard became the rebel and Henry the rightful sovereign.   Parliament, either intimidated or with a delightful sense of irony, passed the bill.  The vilification of Richard became a Tudor tradition.  If you were an ambitious young bureaucrat (Thomas More) or a writer looking for patronage (a Mr. Shakespeare) just concoct some new monstrosities about Richard, and you will be handsomely rewarded.  So Richard became the diabolical hunchback.

Obviously, such a fiend would never belong in hallowed ground; and certainly not the most fashionable hallowed ground in Britain.  The idea of Richard in Westminster Abbey would be more than a burial; it would be his rehabilitation.  I can’t quite see the Queen admitting “We Tudors were such liars.”  No, Westminster Abbey is unavailable.

So where will Richard be interred?  Since the body was found in Leicester, the city has a legal claim and has announced its intention to bury him there.  But there is some sentiment and an email petition to have “this sun of York” buried in that city; however York seems reluctant to acquire the corpse, the media and the tourists.  (The town is already cashing it on “Downton Abbey”.)

And I can think of one place in London that would be an appropriate and appreciative site for Richard.  Give him an attractive urn and a good seat at the National Theater.




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