Royal appointment for Wetherby man

Wetherby resident David Westoby who has a ticket to see Richard III reintered at Leicester Cathedral in March.
Wetherby resident David Westoby who has a ticket to see Richard III reintered at Leicester Cathedral in March.

Watching a former king of England be buried is not something everyone gets to see.

But a Wetherby resident is one of the lucky few fortunate enough to have this rare opportunity.

David Westoby, 58, who works for Boston Scientific - a global medical devices company - has maintained an interest in Yorkshire history, and was thrilled by the discovery of Richard III’s body beneath a car park in Leicester in 2012.

He petitioned to have the former king of England, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and replaced on the throne by Henry Tudor, to be buried in Yorkshire to return him to the House of York to which he belonged and fought for during the bloody Wars of the Roses.

Though this petition failed, Mr Westoby is now looking forward to seeing the king’s body officially reintered at Leicester Cathedral in March 2015, after receiving an official invite - one of only 200 set aside for the public.

He said: “I had to apply for the invite but it was quite a shock when the postman knocked on the door. It was like winning the lottery.

“I am looking forward to the occasion. It is not very often a mere commoner gets invited to the burial of a king.”

Though Richard III had a chequered history, partly due to the reputation established by Shakespeare’s infamous portrayal, Mr Westoby is not alone in appreciating the unique chance to experience the burial of a king.

More than 13,500 people applied online for entry to three services to mark the reinterment, with 5,000 applying on the first day in December 2014.

Mr Westoby is, however, one of only 200 members of the public who will experience the reburial, as the 400 other seats available are during other, later services.

A similarly dedicated band of followers are behind the exhumation of the last Plantagenet king’s body, and some of the team from the University of Leicester will also be in attendance at the reburial.

Mr Westoby reflected on the discovery.

“When the king was found it was very interesting,” he said.

“There were several intriguing elements and I have always had an interest in Yorkshire history.

“He was a guy who spend a majority of his time up here in sunny Yorkshire and was schooled up here.

“I voted in a poll for him to be buried in Yorkshire, but sadly that didn’t happen.

“I would have thought York Minister would have been ideal for him.”

The service will also be attended by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Those involved in the discovery and identification of Richard III’s remains, the communities who live in the vicinity of the battle site, and known descendants from the Battle of Bosworth will all be represented at the service of reinterment as well.

The day after the reburial, on March 27, the tomb will be revealed. This will be followed by official celebrations across the city of Leicester.