Royal Palace or Prince’s Prison: Edward V Enters the Tower of London

The Princes in the Tower by John Everett Millais (1878)

On a bright May morning in 1483, twelve-year-old King Edward V entered the Tower of London to await his coronation. He was moving on the advice of his uncle, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who suggested to the King’s Council that it was time Edward moved from his temporary lodging in the Bishop of Ely’s palace to a location where, according to the Croyland Chronicles, he would be in a “place where fewer restrictions were placed upon him.”
The young prince must have wondered at the rapid changes in his life. Just weeks earlier, the heir to England’s throne had been living in Pontefract Castle under the tutelage of his uncle, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers. Now, with his father’s sudden death, he was king under the protectorship of another uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Following tradition, in the days prior to his coronation he was to be lodged in the Royal Palace of the Tower of London.
In 1483 the medieval palace was a royal residence within a four-hundred-year-old fortress. The White Tower, built by William the Conqueror, dominated London’s skyline since its completion in 1070. Filling much of the Inner Ward, the palace was a sprawling structure of richly decorated lodgings and ancillary buildings. It included a grand hall for feasting, kitchens, storehouses, servants’ quarters, bake houses, stables, and a privy garden. Today, the remaining Wakefield, Wardrobe, and Lanthorn Towers still mark the perimeter of the royal lodgings, with foundations visible up to the entrance to the Royal Palace—the imposing Coldharbor Gate.
The first weeks of Edward’s residence were busy. His Uncle Richard, as Protector, was making final arrangements for his coronation, sending invitations to knights and nobles across the land. Richard also introduced Edward to practical kingship responsibilities, including signing laws and minting a coin with both their images.
The coronation was set for the end of June and all was going smoothly until June 13th. His father’s previous advisors raised a plan to seize control of the young king, the Duke of Gloucester got wind of it, and at a Council Meeting within the Tower, he arrested and then executed the leader of the plot, Lord Hastings. Edward was not reported as being at that meeting and shortly afterwards Edward V’s younger brother and heir, Richard, Duke of York, was brought to the Tower from sanctuary in Westminster ‘to comfort his brother.’ 
As far as anyone knew, the coronation was proceeding. History shows us that this was the beginning of the end of Edward’s short reign.
While researching The Godmother’s Secret and spending time in the Tower with historians, it was fascinating to walk in the footprints of the young princes and reconstruct those vital days leading up to their disappearance. Unravelling conjecture and using contemporary accounts helped me create the suspense, intrigue and innocence that colour those chapters in my novel.

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