HISTORY, ETC: RICHARD III, THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER AND PIZZAGATE
If you believe Edward V lived out a secret life as a park warden in Devon, you'll believe anything. The problem is, plenty of people do
In Josephine Tey’s 1951 novel The Daughter of Time, her fictional Scotland Yard detective John Grant solves the mysteries of Richard III’s reign while lying in his sickbed. Grant’s ailment is a broken leg. Thankfully I have not broken my leg. But I did find myself languishing for three weeks in my Covid bed this Christmas. And my thoughts, like Grant’s, were drawn to England’s most troublesome medieval king.
What prompted this was an email from my friend Stephen, who is a decorated and brilliant film director. Stephen recently finished making a movie about Richard III, due out this year. In the course of filming it I suspect he has become something of a Ricardian. Or perhaps he just likes to wind me up.
Either way, he sent me a link to a news story reporting that historical investigators had turned up ‘proof’ that the deposed child king Edward V – the eldest of the Princes in the Tower – was not murdered on the orders of his uncle Richard III in 1483. Rather, suggested this news story, Edward was hustled out of the Tower and sent off to live a quiet life as a park warden in Devon, under the assumed name John Evans. For reasons unexplained, the rightful king of England was quietly acquiescent with this fate.
A quick glance at this story was enough to arrive at what I felt – and feel – was a safe conclusion. I wrote back to Stephen.
‘The rich scent of bulls**t – as alluring to newsmen as ever.’
He didn’t reply.
Definitely a Ricardian.
At the risk of crediting this latest Princes in the Tower theory with more merit than it deserves, I’ll quickly break down why it is very silly and simply wrong.
But I also want to suggest why I think people today remain so hungry for silliness and wrongness, particularly, but by no means exclusively, when it comes to Richard III.
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