Parking lot burial makes dignity hard to maintain, even for kings

While one monarch — Burger King — was in the news in the United States last week for making a run for the Canadian border to avoid paying a whopper of a corporate income tax bill, another monarch — King Richard III — was in the news in the United Kingdom due to his alleged eating and drinking habits.

It was bad enough being described as a child-killing “poisonous bunch-backed toad” by none other than William Shakespeare and having to die in battle at age 33. But England’s notorious King Richard III has been undergoing a new round of indignities and character assassination ever since his skeleton was discovered in a grave beneath a social service office’s parking lot in Leicester, England, two years ago.

Recent testing involving Richard III’s teeth, a femur and a rib apparently provided enough evidence for researchers to conclude that the image-challenged king drowned his sorrows in the equivalent of three liters of alcohol, in the form of beer and wine, each day. Possibly due to the fact that ice cream and cookie dough hadn’t been invented, his binge eating focused on such luxury items as swan, peacocks and heron — which, by the time Richard’s two-year reign came to an end — probably tasted just like whooping crane to the king.

But life wasn’t a bowl of cherries — or in Richard’s case, carp roe — for the scoliosis-plagued king. In addition to being accused of having a pair of nephews done in to clear his way to the throne, Richard lost the last battle in the long-running Wars of the Roses to Henry Tudor, who might have gone on to open a chain of crumpet restaurants bearing his name, had he not, thanks to Richard’s lack of military prowess, assumed England’s mantle of leadership and become Henry VII.

Richard III has been the butt of numerous jokes since his body was unearthed from under the Leicester parking lot during a 2012 construction project. Most of the jokes deal with how much the ex-king’s disinterment is going to cost, seeing as how he’s run up a 531-year parking tab, or point out that the monarch is certainly not the first drunk to be found in a parking lot.

Of course, Richard had no say in the decision to tear down the Franciscan friary in which he’d originally been buried to make way for the parking lot. I’m sure he would have preferred a more dignified post-life career.

It would have been nice for him if the accidental discovery of his body would have led to a scholarly and dispassionate re-examination of his reign. It might have given him the one thing that his parking lot burial couldn’t:


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