King Richard III Identity: CASE CLOSED AFTER 529 YEARS!

008 Wendy Duldig_Michael Ibsen_University of Leicester
Wendy Duldig and Michael Ibsen, maternal-line relatives of Richard III. Image credit: University of Leicester.

An international research team led by Dr Turi King from the University of Leicester Department of Genetics has published overwhelming evidence that the skeleton discovered under a car park in Leicester indeed represents the remains of King Richard III, thereby closing what is probably the oldest forensic case solved to date.

The team of researchers, including Professor of English Local History, Kevin Schürer, who is also Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Leicester, who led the genealogical research for the project, has published their findings online today (Tuesday 2 December) in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.

The research reveals:

  • DNA evidence from Grey Friars skeleton 1 matches two of Richard III’s maternal-line relatives; Wendy Duldig, Richard III’s grandniece 18 times removed and Michael Ibsen, grandnephew of Richard III, 16 times remove.  Wendy and Michael are 14th cousins twice removed.
  • The Y chromosome type of skeleton 1 is NOT a match to five living paternal-line relatives of Richard III revealing at least one ‘false-paternity event’- where the father is not in fact the assumed father – somewhere in the line from Richard III to Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort, the common ancestor of the living male-line relatives.
  • While the DNA evidence does not tell us where the break occurred, breaks in certain parts of the chain could be of key historical significance regarding royal succession.
  • Richard III had blond hair (77% probability) and blue eyes (96% probability) during his childhood though his hair colour may have darkened with age.
  • The Arched-frame portrait of Richard III, held at the Society of Antiquaries in London, is the portrait which most closely matches the DNA-predicted hair and eye-colour of Richard III.
  • Bayesian analysis conducted for the project concludes, at its most conservative, a 99.999% chance of skeleton 1 from the Grey Friars site being Richard III.
018 Richard III portrait Image Credit _ © Society of Antiquaries of London
Richard III portrait. Image credit (C) Society of Antiquaries of London

To discover more about Richard III’s DNA and the genealogical research click here.

The full research is available to read online:

King, T.E. et al. 2014 ‘Identification of the remains of King Richard III’ in Natural Communications 5:5631 doi: 10.1038/ncomms6631.

3 thoughts on “King Richard III Identity: CASE CLOSED AFTER 529 YEARS!

  1. Reblogged this on archaeotutor and commented:
    Those of you who have been following the Richard III story may be interested in the latest research by the University of Leicester. There are a couple of very useful videos explaining the research; I would recommend the longer one as it provides a more detailed explanation. The shorter one is an extract of the longer one focusing on the issue of the break in the male line.

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