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Historian Lucy Worsley, who reveals the discoveries in a new TV show, said her view of what happened to the youngsters has been changed. She likened the murders to the assassination of the Romanovs, which Lenin is believed to have ordered but took care to cover his tracks.
The two princes, Edward and Richard, 12 and nine, lived during the Wars of the Roses, the bitter battle for the English throne between the Houses of Lancaster and York.
The boys disappeared after they were taken to the Tower of London “for their own protection” in 1483, initiated by the Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III. It is unclear what happened to the princes, but two small human skeletons were discovered in 1674 by workmen at the Tower. They were buried in Westminster Abbey where they remain.
Richard III has long been a main suspect, with accounts by Thomas More naming him as ordering their deaths.
Shakespeare’s Richard III was based on this account.
But supporters of the king – who died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and whose body was only discovered in 2012 beneath a car park in Leicester – say there is no evidence to support these claims.
Some have suggested the boys were not murdered at all.
In Lucy Worsley Investigates the historian says new evidence backs Richard being behind it all. “It’s going to have an impact because every time you get anywhere near the Princes in the Tower, history nerds start writing in.
“I find it really helpful to think in terms of how Lenin killed the Romanov royal family in the Russian Revolution.
“He didn’t leave any paper trail [but] everybody believes Lenin did order the family to be killed.
“The same thing, I believe, happened with Richard III. He was changing the regime.”
For this new series,Worsley has cast aside her familiar dressingup box. She said: “It’s a bit of a different direction for me to be not joking around, not dressing up but looking at some serious stories, hopefully with resonances for people alive today.”
It is about “discovery” too, she explained. “It’s about going from thing to thing, building a picture and making connections between bits of paper, which potentially does not sound very gripping, but in real life as a historian it’s fantastic. Fantastic for all of us.”
Lucy Worsley Investigates, BBC2, Tuesday, 9pm
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