Are the Missing Princes in Westminster Abbey?

In 1674, skeletal remains of two children were discovered under a staircase in the White Tower by workmen who were demolishing derelict buildings in the area. Originally discarded on a rubbish pile, the bones were recovered a couple of days later. King Charles’s surveyor announced they were the remains of Edward V, and his younger brother, Richard Duke of York – the two missing princes who vanished while in the Tower of London in the summer of 1483. Although he ruled for eight weeks, Edward V was never crowned, and his uncle, Richard III became king just before the princes’ disappearance. The historical narration was that Richard killed the princes to secure the throne for himself.
Part of the evidence put forward to support that these were the murdered princes was that the location exactly matched the description of Thomas More in his “History” – that the boys were buried “at the stair foot, metely deep under the ground, under a great heap of stones.” The excavators ignored More’s claim that the bodies had been subsequently moved.
King Charles II ordered their transfer to Westminster Abbey, where they were initially buried in General Monck’s vault. Sir Christopher Wren, the renowned architect, designed a white marble sarcophagus to house the bones, completed by Joshua Marshall, the King’s master mason. The sarcophagus, originally adorned with crowns and plumes, was placed in the north aisle of Henry VII’s chapel, near Elizabeth I’s tomb, an area known now as “Innocents Corner.” It is a beautiful and sad corner of the abbey, and an area I spent quite bit of time in during my research for The Godmother’s Secret.
In 1933, the sarcophagus was opened to examine the bones. Despite some being lost over time, the remaining bones confirmed the presence of two young children. Of course, no DNA or sophisticated testing existed then. The examination concluded with the re-sealing of the urn and a written report. Recent discussions have arisen to request that the bones be tested using sophisticated scientific methods similar to that identifying the remains of Richard III. As yet, no permission has been granted by the reigning monarch or Westminster Abbey, preserving the mystery of the Princes in the Tower.

The inscription on Wren’s urn reads as follows:

“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.”

My novel, The Godmother’s Secret, delves into the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. In May 1483, Lady Elysabeth Scrope delivers her godson, Edward V, to the Tower of London. Amid political turmoil and the disappearance of the princes, Elysabeth faces betrayal and power struggles, torn between her duty to her godson and her family’s safety. If you knew what happened to the missing princes, would you tell? Or forever keep the secret.

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