King Richard III did not deserve his bad reputation, but the battles fought in his name raged long after his death more than five centuries ago at the Battle of Bosworth. Now, on the eve of the premiere of a star-studded British film about the astonishing discovery of his remains under a Leicester car park, England’s great ‘lost king’ is once again the subject of dispute.
The group of expert archaeologists who recovered his bones from the hidden ruins of the Church of Greyfriars 10 years ago last week, and skillfully proved who he was, are fighting this weekend to prevent their version of history is buried forever. They fear that the new film “rather reckless”, The lost kingwill reduce their role in the extraordinary historical discovery.
A member of the University of Leicester team, Professor Turi King, conducted key DNA studies, providing conclusive evidence and spending hours in the lab.
“I had to start from scratch, both on the historical work and on the modern samples from Richard’s living relatives,” said the Canadian-British geneticist.
“We’re all so surprised the filmmakers didn’t check with us. I showed their scout and offered to explain to me, as did the university, but no one took us.
Since his death, Richard III’s defenders, known as the Ricardians, have argued that he was never the scheming malcontent that his influential detractors, such as Sir Thomas More and Shakespeare, portrayed. Nor was he the assassin of the “princes in the tower”.
Historians also disagreed on the fate of his missing corpse: had he been hastily buried after the humiliation of a public parade or dumped in the nearby River Soar? And even when his skeleton was finally found, the citizens of Leicester and York clashed over where he should be buried.
With the premiere of The lost king at the Toronto film festival next month, the monarch is once again caught up in the controversy. An offbeat drama, it’s co-written by Steve Coogan, who also stars as the husband of Philippa Langley, the woman behind the campaign to search for Richard Plantagenet under the asphalt.
Langley, played by Sally Hawkins in the film, is a passionate member of the Richard III Society and the woman who persuaded the local council and the University of Leicester to start excavations. Everyone agrees she’s at the heart of the story, but historians and archaeologists who made the work fear that the acclaimed team who made the film, including co-writer Jeff Pope and the director Stephen Frears, saw them all as obstacles rather than supporters of Langley.
They fear that Langley, driven by the belief that she was cut by the crew, has told the filmmakers an incomplete version of the story.
King, who worked on the excavations with famed chief archaeologist Richard Buckley, said Langley was an inspiration but lacked the expertise to lead them. “Everyone brought something to the table, that’s what was so nice,” she said. “We tried to keep Philippa involved all the time. Why wouldn’t we? We bent over backwards, actually.
Additionally, Richard Taylor, the former assistant clerk at the University of Leicester, said over the weekend that he suspected the film failed to respect the late David Baldwin, one of the first academics to identify the parking lot. as a potential burial site in the mid-1980s.
Taylor, who now works at Loughborough University, first told the world Richard III was found at the famous press conference in February 2013 and is upset that the film proclaims itself ‘the true story’ .
“We all recognize that this wouldn’t have happened without Philippa’s tireless enthusiasm, but it also wouldn’t have happened without the varsity team,” he said. “Tension makes a good story, but it doesn’t necessarily make it true. If you’re going to portray real people, at least involve them. That seems pretty reckless to me.
Taylor is also “frustrated” that her on-screen character, played by Lee Ingleby, represents the university bureaucracy that Langley said stood in her way. The trailer for the film shows him mocking his hunch about Richard’s whereabouts.
“I’m surprised to be the bad guy in the room. There’s a dialogue in there that not only didn’t happen that way, but didn’t happen at all,” he said. “We always included her and gave her number to the press.”
Addressing the Guardian last week, Langley said she felt “diminished” by academics and by archaeologists on the dig: “I was sidelined and marginalized. I was extremely vulnerable. Because I’m not a doctor. I am not a teacher. But in the end, I ended up finding my voice.
Langley also claims that she funded much of the early work. This point is disputed by King, who claims that the university made the first major payment and funded the excavation research, after which the council joined him.
Excavation director Mathew Morris, portrayed in Alasdair Hankinson’s film, said over the weekend: “It was always going to be Philippa’s story, but my big concern is how we are shown. It’s unfair if it doesn’t show our partnership with her.
The lost kingwhich brings together the creators of the award-winning series Philomeneopens in UK cinemas on October 7 and in Australian cinemas on December 26.
Academics from the University of Leicester have been invited to a screening in London next week.
This weekend, film producers said they were “fascinated” to learn of the interest of so many associated with the story, “especially since no one has yet seen the film”. They added that: “Quite simply, without the resolute and unwavering determination of Philippa Langley, an intelligent and committed amateur historian, the remains of King Richard III would still be unknown.”
Ahead of the film’s release, an exhibition at the Wallace Collection in London opens next week. The Lost King, Imagining Richard III