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King Richard III's coffin goes on public view

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By Alasdair Sandford  with Reuters
King Richard III's coffin goes on public view

The coffin of England’s King Richard III has gone on public view until Thursday when his 530-year-old remains will be reburied.

He's been in the dirt for 500 years and here he is being almost worshipped by millions

A day of ceremonies on Sunday ended with a service at Leicester Cathedral where a tomb fit for a royal awaits him.

A crown similar to one he was said to have worn on the last day of his life was placed on the coffin.

Earlier, people lined the procession route in Leicester waving flags and white roses, the symbol of Richard’s House of York.

The week’s events mark the final journey for the most controversial of historical figures, whose death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 was a decisive moment in English history.

It brought to an end the War of the Roses and the Middle Ages – and saw off the Plantagenet dynasty, ushering in the Tudor era.

Richard of York was depicted by Shakespeare as a hunchbacked tyrant who murdered his young nephews to strengthen his grip on power.

But the archaeological discovery of his bones under a car park also brought to the surface a certain rehabilitation of his character.

His supporters say he was a much-maligned figure who revolutionised the law to benefit his subjects.

Sunday’s commemorations took in the sites close to where Richard is believed to have been killed at the Battle of Bosworth.

The mystery surrounding the controversial king and his death fascinates many worldwide.

‘‘Richard III is a bit of a hero of mine. I think he’s a much misunderstood king and so I want to be part of the day and remember him in a way which is fitting for such a towering figure in English history,” said Leicestershire resident Jed Jaggard, who watched the procession dressed as a Yorkshire soldier.

Richard III was king of the House of York which fought a civil war with the House of Lancaster across England in the second half of the 15th century.

‘‘He’s been in the dirt for 500 years and here he is being almost worshipped by millions of people around the world. It’s indescribable,’‘ said American tourist Sarah Badders, who travelled from Arkansas for the event.

Members of today’s royal family will attend Thursday’s reburial of the last English king to die in battle on home soil.

Richard III’s journey will end there but the arguments over his legacy will rage on.