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Butchered King Richard III gets hero's return five centuries on

By Adam Lusher

The previous time Richard III visited Bosworth Field, on August 22, 1485, he ended up offering his kingdom for a horse - according to Shakespeare - before being hacked to death.

Yesterday at Bosworth his mortal remains, discovered to worldwide astonishment beneath a Leicester car park in 2012, were given a much friendlier reception - by a Northern Irish cleric.

The Dean of Leicester Cathedral, who led yesterday's service, is the Very Rev David Monteith, a native of Fermanagh.

"There's a sense of trying to put some things right from the past," he said. "But I'm aware you can't undo history, you have to live with history as it is and try to understand it.

"There's an opportunity for us to make history and I hope that becomes vivid and clear."

Around 2,000 spectators witnessed a 21-gun salute and a knight in shining armour - from the specially-formed Kynges Guard re-enactment group - marching ahead of the coffin, ceremonial broadsword held aloft, to the slow beat of a drum.

Someone even thought to lower the standard of Richard's nemesis Henry VII, which normally flies at the battlefield.

Yesterday's ceremonial procession - from Leicester to Bosworth, then back to the cathedral - was the curtain-raiser for commemorations culminating in Thursday's service of reinterment, to be attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

From far and wide they came to pay tribute to a king vilified by Shakespeare as a hunchbacked tyrant.

"I've been fascinated by Richard III since reading a book about the Plantagenets as a teenager," said the aptly named Tim King (60), a marine surveyor who had come from Melbourne, Australia, to see it all. "I want to see justice, for Richard III to be seen, not as a saint, but as he really was.

"I always hoped there would be a little bit of interest," said Philippa Langley, the staunch defender of Richard III who had spearheaded the 10-year quest to find and rebury his remains. "I didn't forsee this global phenomenon."

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