‘In the sight of the people, he took him by the hand. Which thing the common people rejoiced at and praised, but wise men took it for a vanity.’
The two little princes in the Tower were still alive when King Richard III was crowned ten days later. The coronation of the boy king Edward V had been arranged for 6 July 1483, but it was uncle Richard who presented himself at Westminster Abbey for the ceremony, having declared his nephews illegitimate.
Few in the congregation agreed with that decision, but no one had the courage to say so. Nevertheless, the choir’s singing was pointedly muted as Richard advanced down the nave to the Cosmati pavement in front of the high altar, where the Archbishop of Canterbury was going to crown him.
‘The King and Queene came downe to the high Alter and there they hade greate observance and service and in the meane while the King and the Queene departed from their robes and stode naked from the medle upwards and anone the bishops anointed bothe the King and the Queene, and after this was done the King and the Queene changed their robes into clothe of gold and than the Cardenall of Caunterburye and all the byshopes crowned boeth the King and the Queene with great solempnite.’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 66. One of the courtiers who watched disapprovingly as King Richard III was crowned here was Lady Margaret Beaufort. She had a particular reason for disapproving of the coronation. What was it?