Edward V & Richard Duke of York
Born: 04 Nov, 1470
Location in the Abbey: Lady chapel
Type of memorial: Urn
Type of material: Marble

Edward was born at Westminster on 4 November 1470, while his father Edward IV was in exile and his mother Elizabeth (Woodville) was taking Sanctuary within the Abbey precincts. Edward IV was restored to the throne soon after and died on 9 April 1483. Edward V was in Ludlow at the time of his father's death and on his way back to London he was met by his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester and escorted to the Tower of London. The young king never left the Tower. It was then alleged that his parents' marriage was not valid and Edward was declared to be deposed on 25 June 1483. His uncle succeeded him, proclaimed as Richard III.

Elizabeth had again taken refuge in the Abbey and from there she was persuaded to give up her second son Richard, Duke of York, who joined his brother in the Tower. The Princes were presumed to have been murdered there.. Richard was born on 17 August 1473 and was married as a child on 15 January 1478 to Anne, daughter of John Mowbray, 4th Duke of Norfolk but she died a few years later.

Coronation

Edward V was never crowned.

Burial

In 1674 some bones of children were found in the Tower and assumed to be those of the two boys. The remains were brought to the Abbey by order of Charles II and first buried in the vault of General Monck. A white marble sarcophagus to house the bones was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and made by Joshua Marshall. This is in the north aisle of Henry VII's chapel, near Elizabeth I's tomb. The Latin inscription (written in 1678) can be translated:

"Here lie the relics of Edward V, King of England, and Richard, Duke of York. These brothers being confined in the Tower of London, and there stifled with pillows, were privately and meanly buried, by the order of their perfidious uncle Richard the Usurper; whose bones, long enquired after and wished for, after 191 years in the rubbish of the stairs (those lately leading to the Chapel of the White Tower) were on the 17th day of July 1674, by undoubted proofs discovered, being buried deep in that place. Charles II, a most compassionate prince, pitying their severe fate, ordered these unhappy Princes to be laid amongst the monuments of their predecessors, 1678, in the 30th year of his reign".

The urn was opened on 6 July 1933 to examine the bones to try to ascertain if they were human remains. Not all the bones were there as some had been lost or given away when they were found in 1674..The remaining bones were of  two young children. The Lady Chapel was closed during the examination and on 11th July the bones were carefully wrapped up and replaced in the urn by the Dean with a parchment recording what had been done. He then read part of the burial service and the urn was re-sealed.

A photograph of the monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Recent investigations regarding the fate of the Princes in the Tower by L.E.Tanner and William Wright, 1935

Recollections of a Westminster antiquary by L.E.Tanner, 1969

The bones in the Abbey-are they the murdered Princes - review of the evidence by Nigel Bramwell in American Journal of Forensic Medicine...1989

Anne Mowbray and the Princes in the Tower - a study in identity by Theya Molleson in London Archaeologist 1987

Richard III by P.M.Kendall, 1955, Appendix 1.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

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