Richard III: Princes' fate looks set to remain a mystery
A centuries-old claim that Richard III imprisoned and murdered his two young nephews looks set to remain a mystery despite the possibility a genetic study could reveal the truth.
Using DNA from the recently identified monarch, academics at the University of Leicester could determine whether two bodies believed to be those of his nephews, Edward and Richard, are indeed the Princes in the Tower.
However, Westminster Abbey, where the bodies are buried, said it would not grant access to the remains.
The Richard III Society unsuccessfully applied to open the graves in 1993 and 1995.
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A spokeswoman for the abbey said: "The recent discovery of Richard III does not change the abbey's position, which is that the mortal remains of two young children, widely believed since the 17th century to be the princes, should not be disturbed."
The story goes that in 1483, Richard III ordered the deaths of the 12-year-old King Edward V and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, nine, in order to seize the throne.
Richard Taylor, deputy registrar at the University of Leicester, said tests would involve analysing the Y chromosome from the known Plantagenet remains.
"However, we haven't got that far in our research yet, nor have we been granted, or applied for, permission from Buckingham Palace," he said.
"If we were to do the work, we could work down through the family tree to the princes, but we're not thinking that far ahead yet."
The dramatic discovery of two child skeletons in the Tower of London in 1674 added weight to the claim the young princes came to a gruesome end at the hands of their uncle.
Geneticist Dr Turi King, whose work cemented the identity of Richard III, said: "It's an intriguing question and it would be interesting to try to answer it.
"There's a possibility that if I can amplify the Y chromosome and we can get an uncontaminated sample from the remains at Westminster, we might be able to determine whether there's a link.
"But, if I'm honest, there would be no academic merit.
"I'm a little wary of people who try to do things like this without a proper research question attached to it.
"But I am interested and I think I'd have to do it quietly, without the media breathing down my neck.
"In the case of Richard III, I had to go public before I'd completely finished my research, which is not the way I would have done things in an ideal world."
If the DNA did not match, it would be unlikely the remains at Westminster were those of Edward V and his sibling.
If they did match, it would further strengthen the claims the princes were murdered.
Buckingham Palace has refused to comment on the issue.