One of the most captivating unsolved mysteries in history is the story of the Princes in the Tower. It is a story that dates back to the late 15th century, and scholars continue to debate theories on what truly occurred to this day. While a multitude of books, films, television series, and podcasts have speculated about the fate of the two young princes, no one truly knows what happened to them. Here is what we do know:
- On April 9th, 1493 Edward IV died of an unknown illness. On his deathbed, he decided that his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester would be the Lord Protector of his son, expected King Edward V.
- At the time, Edward V was only twelve years old. He shortly left his home at Ludlow Castle in order to travel to London for his coronation with his maternal uncle. While traveling, Richard met up with Edward V and his party. They allegedly spent an evening drinking together. Yet in the morning, Richard had Edward’s uncle and other members of his group arrested. He told young Edward that they were traitors.
- Richard, the Duke of Gloucester then took Edward to the Tower of London in order to prepare for his coronation.
- Richard rescheduled Edward’s coronation, and began growing a political following for himself.
- Richard then surrounded Westminster, where Edward’s mother and siblings were hiding in sanctuary, and demanded that Edward’s younger brother Richard, Duke of York, be handed over to him. Richard, Duke of York was nine years old.
- Eventually, Richard discovered that Edward IV, Edward V’s father had entered into a marriage contract with another woman before marrying Edward V’s mother. Richard used this information to delegitimize Edward’s claim to the throne.
- The two princes were moved to the inner apartments of the Tower.
- Richard executed Edward’s maternal uncle, along with many of his supporters.
- Richard was crowned King Richard III on July 6, 1483. He is the last king of the Plantagenet dynasty. The last recorded sighting of the princes was shortly after King Richard’s coronation.
- Around 1515, during the new reign of the Tudors, Sir Thomas More wrote The History of King Richard III. In his book, he claims that Richard III ordered the murder of the two princes in order to eradicate any threat to his reign. According to More, the murder was carried out by Sir James Tyrrell, Miles Forrest, and John Dighton. More further states that the boys were smothered in their sleep, and buried at the foot of the stairs.
- In 1674, during renovation on the Tower of London, two small skeletons were found buried beneath a stone staircase. British authorities have not allowed for a conclusive DNA test to be done on the remains.
For years this spine-chilling mystery has baffled the masses. Even in 2021, there are consistent pleas for the bones to be examined. While it is widely accepted that Richard III is responsible for the deaths of the two princes, theories range from placing the blame for the murders on the Tudors to postulating that they survived and their family hid them. It is unlikely that there will ever be a definite answer to the question of the fate of the two princes. Still, the intrigue of this mystery has captured the minds of so many for over 500 years, and will likely continue to keep people invested for years to come.