| Larry Neild |
LONDON (Xinhua) – Invitations will go out next week to attend the funeral of a King of England who died in a battle more than 500 years ago.
More than 13,500 applications from across the world have flooded into Leicester Cathedral in the hope of winning one of the 600 public seats available at the funeral and reburial in March of King Richard III.
The king was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, the last major battle in a war between two rival dynasties, the House of York and the House of Lancaster, the so-called Wars of the Roses.
Two years ago, the remains of Richard III were found buried beneath a car park in Leicester.
The discovery sparked a legal battle over whether the king should be buried in his ancestral home of York, or close to where he was discovered in Leicester.
Judges ruled Leicester must be Richard III’s final resting place, and with regal pomp and ceremony, a series of three re-interment services will take place in March.
A specially created tomb is currently being built in Leicester Cathedral where the king’s remains will be buried.
Although most of the 13,500-plus applications for tickets have come from Britain, men, women and children from as far as Afghanistan, West Africa, New Zealand, North America and Asia have asked for invites. Each will now be waiting to learn from next week if they will be invited to the funeral.
Rev Pete Hobson, acting Canon Missioner at Leicester Cathedral, said, “The number of applications means that everyone has got a one in 20 chance of getting an invitation. Our task now is to organise the applications and randomly select 600 people from them. “
Liz Hudson, spokeswoman for the Church of England in Leicester, said, “It shows how much interest there is and how much of a global story it is. We will be using a random generator to chose who will get an invitation. The process will be as fair as possible.”
Of the 600 public invitations, 200 people will be invited to the main re-interment service on March 26, when the coffin is lowered into the ground and sealed in its tomb.
The leader of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, will conduct the service which will be broadcast live on the terrestrial television station Channel 4.
The other two services will take place at the cathedral during a week of events which run from March 22, until March 27.
The other 1,800 VIP guests invited to the three services will include members of the Royal Family and known descendants of King Richard.
To date, the only confirmed royal is the Duke of Gloucester – the patron of the cathedral’s Richard III Fund-raising Appeal.
Also invited will be members of the two rival groups who traded insults in a bitter fight over the where the remains of Richard III should be buried. Church authorities hope they will be united for the first time at a service to celebrate the king’s life.
Thousands of people are expected to visit Leicester in March when the royal remains of King Richard III are reburied at Leicester Cathedral. The city also expects the tomb to become a tourist attraction.
The battle where the king died was immortalised in Richard III, one of the works of the famous English playwright, William Shakespeare.