Are the bones really that of Richard III? Probably. The king died in battle and the skeleton recovered was that of an adult male with signs of trauma to the skull shortly before death, perhaps from a bladed instrument, and a barbed metal arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the upper back.
William Shakespeare, writing more than a century after Richard's death, described the king as "deform'd, unfinished" and as a hunchback “so lamely and unfashionable that dogs” barked at him as he went by. Researchers said the recently uncovered skeleton displayed spinal abnormalities although not as severe as what Shakespeare claimed.
All this still isn't proof that the remains are those of Richard III but the evidence is compelling. DNA tests with a descendant of a relative of Richard III's are now in progress.
All of this is historically significant and interesting, but has generated an even bigger controversy: what to do with the bones? Normally, a deceased King of England would be buried with great pomp and circumstance. However, King Richard may not rate such ceremonies as he has been demonized as one of the most despotic kings to ever rule the country in his two years on the throne. He locked up his two nephews, aged 12 and 9, in the Tower and had them declared illegitimate so he could seize the throne after the death of his brother Edward IV. (The Tower of London was a royal residence in 1483.) The two princes were never seen again and many believe that Richard III ordered their murder, a charge that has never been proven. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princes_in_the_Tower.
“England cannot, should not, celebrate a child-killer,” said Gareth Russell, British novelist and historical blogger.
You can read more about this interesting story in an article by Anthony Faiola published in the Washington Post at http://goo.gl/VAgsI.
My thanks to newsletter reader Larry Head for telling me about this article.