Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Face to face with the past

It's understandable that there weren't too many princes called Richard in the centuries after the reign of Shakespeare's great villain of a king who bore the name.  Richard III was turned into one of the nastiest monarchs ever by the Tudors who followed him and who wanted to prove it was right they ruled because what went before had been so bad.  It worked and for centuries the idea of a prince called Richard would have seemed just a bit odd given what the history books told us about the last king with the name.  Five hundred years after his death, Richard is being rehabilitated.  And the royals have another prince with the name.

Richard of Gloucester face to face with Richard of Gloucester as the Queen's cousin visits a museum featuring an exhibition about the villainous king

Not only that but this Richard is also of Gloucester as well.  The third king with the name was Duke of Gloucester for much of his life and the latest Prince Richard ended up with that title as well after his older brother, William, was killed in a plane crash.  The modern Prince Richard is the patron of the Richard III Society which has sought, for decades, to show the full picture of the king rather than the one dimensional version of Shakespeare.  And it was as their patron that the 21st century Richard of Gloucester came face to face with the 15th century version as he toured an exhibit about the discovery of the king's bones in Leicester in 2012.  Scientists modelled a version of Richard IIIs  head based on that discovery and it was that which stared back at the Queen's cousin in recent days.  Two men, one name, one title and for one moment face to face across the centuries.

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