Guest columnist James Taylor asks how should we remember the death of divisive figures like Richard III

File photo dated 05/02/13 of a model of the face of King Richard III, as Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch is to read a specially written poem at the re-burial of Richard III. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday March 26, 2015. The Imitation Game star is a distant relative of the last Plantagenet king and is due to star in a forthcoming BBC television series about the monarch. See PA story HISTORY Richard. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
File photo dated 05/02/13 of a model of the face of King Richard III, as Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch is to read a specially written poem at the re-burial of Richard III. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday March 26, 2015. The Imitation Game star is a distant relative of the last Plantagenet king and is due to star in a forthcoming BBC television series about the monarch. See PA story HISTORY Richard. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

I was disappointed not to get tickets to any of the services around Richard III’s reinternment at Leicester Cathedral.

I visited last summer and saw the building work where the last Plantagenet king is now laid to rest, and I would like to go again to see the memorial placed to him.

I do have a sense of unease, though, about the level of thanksgiving that is now being paid to Richard III.

As a monarchist, and church-going Christian, I feel a sovereign should be laid to rest with due reverence—but Richard III was, and remains, a clearly divisive figure.

My unease comes through his usurpation of the throne in the summer of 1483 and the death of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower.

Historians are divided about the culpability of Richard III in the deaths of his nephews. Some identify others who may have been responsible, including his successor, Henry VII.

But the facts still remain that the two boys, aged 13 and nine, went missing under his protection and were presumed killed. Richard III did nothing to refute the rumours that he, or someone acting on his behalf, had killed them.

There have been debates for centuries about Richard III and, certainly, he was not the only monarch to have taken the throne by force. Indeed, he was killed on the battlefield by Henry VII, who took the throne by right of conquest.

To me however, the deaths of the princes seem far worse than a death in battle. It makes the celebration of Richard and his life slightly unpalatable.

The story will surely prove a boost to tourism in Leicester—in the same way that Nottingham celebrates the Sheriff who, according to legend, was a self-serving character who illegally levied taxation.

It begs the question of how we lay to rest those who have divided opinion. After all, a funeral of someone who was suspected of murdering his nephews last week wouldn’t result in fêting and praising but protests. Feelings would run high, though that’s not necessarily right either. When Lady Thatcher died two years ago, it was clear that not everyone would agree with a ceremonial funeral— especially in former coalmining areas such as Nottinghamshire.

There were those who protested outside St Paul’s Cathedral. This, to me, seemed fair as far as it remained peaceful and respectful.

For all that she had divided opinion, she was still someone’s mother and grandmother and to my mind the actions were inappropriate.

Finding the right balance is not easy but a ceremony such as this should be respectful without celebrating aspects of their lives which may not be worthy of such praise.