Richard III: York Minster backs Leicester for burial
York Minster is now backing Leicester's claim as the final resting place for the remains of Richard III.
The northern cathedral issued a statement yesterday supporting the re-interment of the bones into the parish of St Martin's – where the king was buried 528 years ago following his defeat at Bosworth.
The news is a blow to City of York Council, which launched an online petition, signed by more than 11,500 people, calling for York to be allowed to claim the skeleton and reinter it at its cathedral. The council has also written to Buckingham Palace and the Ministry of Justice about the issue.
However, without York Minster's participation in the campaign, it would appear York's fight for the bones has collapsed.
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York Minster said in a statement on its website yesterday: "It was Leicester Franciscans who gave him burial and the cathedral has a major memorial to his memory at its heart.
"When the possibility of an excavation of the Greyfriars site began, it was agreed from the start any remains found would be reinterred in Leicester.
"When the archaeologists found an intact body, the Ministry of Justice licence (giving permission for exhumation) was drawn up in those terms and explicitly named Leicester Cathedral.
"The Chapter supports the terms of the Ministry of Justice licence and the wish of Chapter of Leicester that Richard should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. The Chapter of York commends Richard to Leicester's care and to the cathedral community's prayers."
The statement came after the Leicester Mercury reported yesterday the Ministry of Justice had said the decision of where to bury the king's remains lay squarely in the hands of the University of Leicester.
City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "We are very pleased the Cathedral Chapter in York has put an end to any unseemly bickering about the re-interment of Richard III."
Responding to the news of York Minster's withdrawal from the furore surrounding the medieval remains, Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said: "I look forward to welcoming Ricardians from York and elsewhere to visit Leicestershire."
The argument as to where he should be buried reached the House Commons yesterday. Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth stood up in response to two Yorkshire MPs who claimed Leicester's links to Richard III were "historically dodgy".
Replying, Mr Ashworth said: "On Richard III, the case for Leicester is overwhelming."
Despite the halt to York's plans to bring home the bones, some supporters of the campaign have said the fight is not over.
Steve Hughes, editor of York's daily paper, The Press, said "There's a huge strength of feeling in the city that as the last Yorkist King in England and, in line with his wishes, he should be buried in York."