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King Richard III makes final journey to battlefield

The remains of King Richard III, the last British monarch to die in battle, have begun their final journey ahead of his reburial, 530 years after his death. His remains were found buried in a car park in 2012.

Five days of events leading up to King Richard III's Thursday burial began on Sunday when pallbearers carried the Plantagenet king's coffin from the University of Leicester, where archaeologists had been examining his remains after they were dug out of a municipal car park in 2012.

White roses, a symbol of his royal house, were laid on the coffin by archaeologists who worked on excavating his remains and his descendants before the cortage began its journey.

His casket was then taken by hearse to a spot near where he was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Richard III will be laid to rest on Thursday in Leicester Cathedral, central England, across the street from where his remains were found in 2012. Modern-day royals are expected to attend the service which will be broadcast live on national television. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will lead the ceremony.

England Leicester Grab von Richard III.entdeckt

Researchers say the grave dug for the king was too small to house his body

The Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, said theat Richard III's death marked an "extraordinary moment" in British history.

"It was a change of dynasty, an end of a period of violent civil war, the beginning of the period which Shakespeare was to write his great tragedies, including 'Richard III', and a different way of governing the country," he said.

King Richard III's remains will now be displayed at the cathedral until he is reinterred in a special tomb on Thursday.

Private donations, of more than 1.54 million pounds (2.12 million euros, $2.3 million), have been made to fund alterations to the cathedral and the construction of Richard III's tomb, Leicester Cathedral said.

Richard was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty to rule England from 1483 until his death on the battlefield, fighting soldiers loyal to Henry Tudor, who later became Henry VII. The Battle of Bosworth Field, near Leicester, was the last major conflict in the War of the Roses - the Plantagenet family's symbol was a white rose, the Tudors' a red rose - and his defeat saw the crown pass from the House of York to the House of Tudor.

Leicester University archaeologists and members of the Richard III society excavated the site of the Grey Friars Church in 2012 where they believed he had been buried. Scientists examined bones found which were consistent with descriptions of the king, notably his curved spine, and battle injuries. Radiocarbon dating showed the man researchers found died between 1455 and 1530.

A DNA match was confirmed with the king's closest living relative, Canadian carpenter Michael Ibsen, who also made the monarch's English oak coffin.

Scientists found eight serious head wounds, indicating King Richard III's death was from a series of blows from swords or other weapons.

jlw/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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