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Richard III reburied in ceremony at Leicester Cathedral

The last king of England to die in battle, Richard III, has been reburied in a lavish ceremony at Leicester Cathedral. His remains were found under a car park across the road from his new resting place three years ago.

A coffin containing the remains of the monarch, who died 530 years ago, was reinterred in a service overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

"We return the bones of your servant Richard to the grave," Welby said in a prayer.

The bones were packed with wool and linen, and sealed inside a lead ossuary then placed inside an oak coffin made by a Canadian relative of the king, Michael Ibsen.

"He is, at last, being given the burial that he ought to have been given in the first place, regardless of his reputation," Ibsen said.

Outside thousands of well-wishers gathered to watch the ceremony on screen, many holding white roses, the symbol of Richard's House of York dynasty.

On Sunday 35,000 people had lined Leicester's streets

as his coffin was brought by horse-drawn hearse

to the cathedral.

May Doherty, a Northern Ireland resident who was dressed in full medieval costume, said it was a once in a lifetime event.

"We believe he was innocent and this is the burial he deserved," she said.

"It's brilliant to be here and be part of history."

Reigning Queen Elizabeth II sent a message for the ceremony, saying Richard would now be able to "lie in peace in the City of Leicester in the heart of England."

She described him as "a king who lived through turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him."

The Queen's daughter-in-law Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, attended on her behalf, along with her cousin Prince Richard, who is a patron of the Richard III Society and a blood relative of him.

Richard's closest living relatives, all direct female line descendants of his eldest sister Anne of York, were also at the service.

After soldiers lowered the coffin into the ground Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem written specially by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy for the occasion.

Members of the public watch the reinterment service of King Richard III on a television screen near Leicester Cathedral

Thousands of locals turned out to watch the reinterment of Richard III's remains at Leicester Cathedral

Cumberbatch will play Richard in an upcoming TV series, and is the king's third cousin 16 times removed.

The coffin had been on display for the whole week, during which tens of thousands of people visited the athedral.

Unfair legacy

Richard III's remains , and identified using DNA, radiocarbon dating and his uniquely curved spine.

The operation to exhume, analyze and rebury the king was led by scholars from the University of Leicester.

He was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, and ruled from 1483 till his death at the Battle of Bosworth near Leicester two years later, at the age of 32.

After this death he was quickly buried in a humble grave in Leicester, with the site destroyed in 1538.

His defeat marked the end of the War of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster, and meant the crown passed to the Tudors.

Richard III was characterized as a tyrant and a schemer by Shakespeare, but the discovery of his body has encouraged scholars to re-examine his life and record of reform.

"History, they say, is written by the victors," the Leicester team remarked.

"Tudor writers and artists had no qualms about depicting Richard III as an evil tyrant and child-murderer, as well as a crippled hunchback."

In his foreword to Thursday's service David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester, remarked on the differing views of Richard's reign.

"He seems a hero to some and a villain to others," he said.

an/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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