Celebrations underway ahead of King Richard III reburial

A model of the face of King Richard III Credit: PA Wire

Celebrations to mark the reburial of King Richard III are underway ahead of his funeral next week.

A cortege will take the remains of the last of the Plantagenet kings' remains on a tour of places in Leicestershire associated with the former king including Bosworth Battlefield, where he died in 1485.

The king will then be returned to the city of Leicester for a special service at the cathedral ahead of his reburial on Thursday.

Leicester Cathedral Credit: PA Wire

Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, said today's service of compline at Leicester Cathedral would be "intimate, thoughtful, and an emotional moment".

The service of compline itself, where the king's coffin will lie in repose inside the cathedral, traces its roots "back to the pre-Reformation church" and had been chosen because of its links to Richard's Catholic faith.

Bishop Stevens said it would be an emotional moment when the coffin was borne into the cathedral, not only for its symbolism but in remembrance of Richard the man.

"We're looking forward to the opportunity to remind people of the extraordinary moment in English history the death of Richard III marks," he said.

"It was a change of dynasty, an end of a period of violent civil war, the beginning of the period in which Shakespeare was to write his great tragedies, including Richard III, and a different way of governing the country.

"That's an important point for all of us, whether we happen to be Christian observers or not."

The skeleton of King Richard III Credit: PA Wire

The monarch's remains were discovered by archaeologists in the remains of an old monastery beneath a Leicester City Council car park in August 2012.

His coffin will lie in repose following the service at Leicester Cathedral, where it can be viewed by the general public from Monday.

Then on Thursday, his remains will be lowered into a purpose-built tomb made of Yorkshire Swaledale stone, before visitors are allowed back inside the cathedral to see the completed memorial on Friday.