But noooooo…it’s the Princes in the Tower, and Richard III did it. Of course he did. Because the not-yet-sainted Thomas More resided in the same town as the children of one of the confessed murderers. Case solved, after 538 years.
Not that we have a body. Those bones found in the Tower? For all we know, they belong to two girls who died in Roman times. Forensics in the 1700s were primitive. And I struggle to believe that someone dug under a stone stairway in a royal palace/fortress, buried not one but two bodies—and no one noticed! It’s not impossible that the burials predate the stairs, and the Tower of London itself.
You should know that I’m a Ricardian—used to be a regular contributor to the Ricardian Register, the newsletter of the American Branch of the Richard III Society. I provided art for them, back in the days before desktop publishing made printing photos possible. I am more than familiar with the world of Ricardian fiction—I even added to it when I wrote The Wizard’s Shadow.
So, I know that novelists have been solving the murder of the Princes in the Tower for well over a hundred years. The chosen suspects include: the Duke of Buckingham, Richard’s cousin; Cecily Neville, Richard’s mother and grandmother of the Princes; Anne Neville, Richard’s Queen; Dr. John Argentine, who made them vampires; disease; unfortunate accident.
Or, not dead at all: sent into protective custody; entered religious life; fled into exile at the court of Margaret of Burgundy, Richard’s sister and their aunt.
So, let’s not pretend the mystery is solved. Such early days, for that. And as I list out the suspects, there’s one I don’t recall anyone using: the Princess Elizabeth, future wife of Henry VII and future mother of Henry VIII. Firstborn of Edward IV, heir presumptive for years, as sister after sister was born. Until her brothers are born, she is a precious possession of the crown. Eldest child of the King of England. A valuable chip in a high-stakes game. Without her brothers, she’s Queen, whether she marries Richard (as was rumored); marries Henry Tudor (as happened); or in her own right (if Richard and Henry had both died at Bosworth).
Richard took the throne—at Parliament’s request—after his brother’s children were declared illegitimate. If the Princes were alive when Richard died on Bosworth Field, then how could Henry Tudor bolster his shaky claim to the throne by marrying the Princess Elizabeth? If she’s legitimate, then they’re legitimate. So Henry’s a suspect.
England’s Greatest Murder Mystery Solved? It’s been solved dozens of times, I think. And that’s as close as we’re going to get, until someone invents a really good Time Machine.