Errors and Omissions: Richard III returns but a royal mystery remains unsolved

Our peerless Letters editor pricks the hype in this week's Independent

Share

We went a bit over the top in our coverage, last Saturday, of the finding of the body of King Richard III. A headline said that it “could prove that he really didn’t commit the greatest crime in royal history” – the murder of the princes in the Tower. Hardly that; all it could do is cast doubt on the identification of two skeletons found in the Tower in 1674 as those of the princes, if their DNA didn’t match Richard’s.

A panel accompanying the story informed readers that the princes “disappeared from the Tower in 1483”. No, they disappeared into the Tower in 1483, which is the whole point.

The revisionist zealots of the Richard III Society are naturally cock-a-hoop at discovering the skeleton of their unsavoury hero. No one can deny, however, that Richard in 1483 staged a coup against his nephew Edward V, had the two boys declared illegitimate, had himself crowned king, and banged them up in the Tower, whence they never emerged alive. That is not enough to convict Richard in a court of law, but I submit that the overwhelming likelihood is that he had them done to death, as everybody seems to have believed at the time.

Alternative theories, such as that they were murdered on the orders of Henry VII, having been found still alive in the Tower when he took over in 1485, are as far-fetched as the equally persistent notion that Shakespeare’s plays were written by somebody else.

Out of order

Here is what comes of writing too fast and trying to cram too much into one sentence: “The company fell on the sort of hard times its clients usually face when they have to make loan repayments in 2009 after it emerged that directors had made a mess of provisioning against bad loans.”

That was from a business analysis piece, published on Wednesday, about troubles at one of those companies that makes loans to people who might have difficulty getting them anywhere else. The reader can work out what it means, but you have to go back a second time to make sure you are not reading about clients making loan repayments in 2009.

Better to split it into two sentences and swap things round a bit: “In 2009, the company fell on the sort of hard times its clients usually face when they have to make loan repayments. It emerged that directors had made a mess of provisioning against bad loans.”

Appealing

“Specs appeal,” said a headline on Monday’s style pages. What a lovely old headline, none the worse for having been applied to any feature article about glasses since William Boot was a lad.

Does anyone talk about “sex appeal” any more? It has a strong flavour of the 1950s. But its headline offspring still flourish – not only “Specs appeal” but the equally jolly “Sax appeal”, seen above a thousand arts and entertainment features about jazz or swing music.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A hawk is seen resting in a tree in the Florida Everglades on August 11, 2011 in the Everglades National Park, Florida. The Obama administration announced it will pump $100 million into Everglades restoration. The money will go to buy land from ranchers as much as 24,000 acres - some 37 square miles - in four counties northwest of Lake Okeechobee and preserve them under permanent conservation easements.  

Nature Studies: My best nature books of 2014

Michael McCarthy
 

My Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'