Are ‘Art’ and Money More Important Than Respect for the Dead?

I am a member of Leigh on Sea group, an author and speaker. I write novels about my favourite historical figure, Richard III. You may remember the real King Richard III was reinterred in 2015 in Leicester Cathedral, where he was supposed to rest in peace and be treated with dignity and honour.

I have visited Leicester and Richard’s tomb several times and it is a lovely, peaceful place.

However, Richard’s rest is about to be disturbed by two performances of Shakespeare’s Richard III. So what? you may ask. Shakespeare is brilliant, especially his Tragedy of Richard III – and, of course, that’s correct. But Shakespeare, writing in Tudor times and with a great deal of artistic licence, portrayed Richard as an evil, deformed hunchbacked tyrant, who murdered his way to the throne. And because it is such good theatre and Shakespeare is so well-respected, many believe it is historically correct. But it is full of errors and untruths; in fact, none of the crimes and murders Richard is accused of in the play can be proved to have been committed by him – it is all Tudor propaganda and hearsay. For example, the ‘Princes in the Tower’, Richard’s nephews, whom according to Shakespeare he murdered, simply disappeared. No-one know what happened to them. They may have survived and been moved.

But there is a lot that is known about Richard, which is positive; he was known as a loyal, conscientious, just, intelligent, merciful and courageous man. He brought in a primitive form of legal aid for the poor, he stamped out corruption of the juries, he encouraged reading and education, he refused gifts of money (saying he would rather have the people’s hearts than their money), he was faithful to his wife and a pious man.

So is it right that the Cathdral, custodians of his mortal remains, should allow these performances of a play that has done more than anything to trash his reputation, literally feet from his grave?

If you think this is insensitve, inappropriate, disrespectful and crass, please sign my petition: Click here