LONDON — More than five centuries after he went down fighting, King Richard III is in the middle of another battle — this time over where in England his newly discovered remains should be reburied.
The Plantagenet Alliance, which includes some of Richard's distant descendants, has asked England's High Court to rule on plans to rebury their ancestor's remains in Leicester, the city where they were found two years ago under a municipal car park.
The alliance says the Ministry of Justice was "unreasonable" to give permission to Leicester to bury him in its cathedral, and argues that the decision on the final resting place of the last Plantagenet king should have been a matter of public consultation.
"It matters what happens when you identify the only king since 1066 whose remains were not identified," the alliance's counsel, Gerard Clarke, told the court on Thursday during the first of two days of hearings on the complaint. "It should not be left to chance, whim, or commercial interest."
The court is due to rule in several weeks.
The discovery of the skeleton of Richard, whose death effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, was one of the most remarkable English archaeological finds in recent times. Leicester University archaeologists found the remains close to the site of the 1485 Battle of Bosworth where he was killed.
Leicester's city council has unveiled plans for a $6.6 million visitors' center around the find. But the Plantagenet Alliance wants to see him buried in York, his northern power base during his 26-month reign, and started its legal action last year.
James Eadie, counsel for the Ministry of Justice, said the government was under no statutory duty to consult on the matter. "The remains would be just as available for remembrance if they were in Leicester, York, or Westminster Abbey," he said.