The world’s oldest forensic investigation has concluded that a skeleton discovered in 2012 does indeed belong to King Richard III.
Scientists from the University of Leicester, U.K. dug up the skeleton from a parking lot, and have recently finished undertaking extensive tests on both the remains and known living relatives of the last king of the House of York. Dr. Turi King and his team from the Department of Genetics analysed genetic markers such as mitochondrial genomes and Y-chromosomal markers to reach their conclusion.
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King Richard III: Evidence of infidelity
Mitochondrial DNA is passed on by the mother, so researchers followed the female line of the king’s family tree and found a match with two female-line descendants, Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig.
“Here we report DNA analysis of both the skeletal remains and living relatives of Richard III. We find a perfect mitochondrial DNA match between the sequence obtained from the remains and one living relative, and a single-base substitution when compared with a second relative,” King and colleagues wrote.
Y chromosomes are inherited from the father, meaning that both Richard III and his present day descendants should have shared King Edward V’s DNA. However this was not the case, with no matches present between Richard III and five modern descendants.
Problems for the modern royal family?
Not only would this suggest infidelity in the royal family, it throws into doubt the legitimacy of the dead king’s claim to the throne, as well as those of later kings.
The research has made sure that the skeleton definitely belongs to Richard III. Even with a conservative estimate, tests have shown 99.999% accuracy in identifying the skeleton.
“Even with our highly conservative analysis, the evidence is overwhelming that these are indeed the remains of King Richard III, thereby closing an over 500 year old missing person’s case,” King said.
Any evidence of illegitimacy back in the 15th-century does not in fact throw into question Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, because her right to rule is based on the 1701 Act of Settlement, not on being a direct bloodline descendant of monarchs prior to that date.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on 2 December.