SUNDAY, March 03, 2024

Discovery of King Richard III's remains under car park re-told in 'The Lost King'

Discovery of King Richard III's remains under car park re-told in 'The Lost King'

The news of the discovery of King Richard III's skeleton in a Leicester car park in August 2012, more than five centuries after his death, made headlines around the world.

Ten years on, the story of the woman who spearheaded the search that led to the exhumation of his remains is told in the new feature film "The Lost King", which received its UK premiere in London on Monday (September 26).

Directed by veteran filmmaker Stephen Frears and written by co-star Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, the film centres around Philippa Langley, an amateur historian from Edinburgh who became captivated by Richard's story and crowdfunded over £30,000 to launch the excavation that unearthed the monarch's remains.

The movie highlights Langley's role as the driving force behind the discovery, under the banner "the incredible true story - her story," downplaying the contributions of the team of archaeologists and scientists.

"We've had ten years of University of Leicester's point of view. I mean, it was important to redress the balance and tell the story from Philippa's point of view and put her front and centre and on a pedestal where she belongs," Coogan told Reuters on the red carpet.

Langley, who was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015, also attended Monday's premiere alongside the actor portraying her, Sally Hawkins.

The 60-year-old author said she hoped the film and her story would inspire and empower young girls.

Frears, director of films including "Dangerous Liaisons", "High Fidelity" and "Florence Foster Jenkins", said he jumped on the chance to reunite with Coogan and Pope, with whom he made the 2013 movie "Philomena."

The 81-year-old filmmaker, who also directed "The Queen" and "Victoria and Abdul," said he did not particularly seek out stories about British royals to tell in his films - and didn't in fact hold a special interest in monarchs and monarchies.

Richard, the last Plantagenet king of England, remains a complex figure whose life, made famous by Shakespeare's play, deeply divides opinion among historians in Britain and abroad.

A tough soldier and popular in northern England, Richard was crowned at Westminster Abbey in July 1483 after replacing his 12-year-old nephew Edward V on the throne after claims that the young prince and his brother, the sons of Richard's elder brother Edward IV, were illegitimate.

The two boys later disappeared from the Tower of London, and their fate is one of the greatest unanswered historical questions.

However, Richard has long been blamed for ordering, or even carrying out, the murder of the "Princes in the Tower".

His supporters say this is misleading, written as it was over 100 years later when Queen Elizabeth I, the granddaughter of Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII after his victory over Richard at Bosworth in 1485, was on the throne.

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester were able to confirm from his remains that the body showed signs of injuries consistent with wounds received in battle; a bladed implement appeared to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull while a barbed metal arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the skeleton's upper back.

The team also found that the curvature of his spine was consistent with Shakespeare's depiction of Richard as a hunchback.

It took the team several months to confirm the identity of the bones.

DNA from the skeleton was traced back to a direct descendent of the medieval king's sister, Anne of York, which helped the team to identify that the remains belonged to Richard.