Royal hair DNA test bid thwarted

HOPES that a lock of royal hair kept in west Suffolk could solve the centuries-old mystery of what befell the Princes in the Tower appear to have been quashed by a leading cleric.

HOPES that a lock of royal hair kept in west Suffolk could solve the centuries-old mystery of what befell the Princes in the Tower appear to have been quashed by a leading cleric.

Essex University's John Ashdown-Hill believed a lock of Mary Tudor's hair stored at Moyses Hall Museum, in Bury St Edmunds, could be cross-checked with remains thought to belong to her two uncles, Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, who were locked in the Tower of London by Richard III in 1483.

The fate of the brothers - the sons of Edward IV but declared illegitimate by an Act of Parliament known as Titilus Regius - remains unknown because, after being locked away, they were never seen again.

Legend has it the boys were murdered, possibly by Richard III, the Duke of Buckingham or Henry VII. During renovation work at the Tower in 1674, the skeletons of two children were found under a staircase leading to the chapel.


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It is thought these might belong to the two princes which, using modern DNA testing techniques, could have been checked against the lock of hair in Bury, because Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII, would have the same mitochondrial DNA as the princes.

Such a possibility has now been ruled out by the Dean of Westminster Abbey who said: “These are the remains of two innocent children that have been there for many centuries and it would be highly inappropriate, for any purpose of inquiry, to disturb them.”

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A spokesman for Buckingham Palace added similar approaches and requests had been made in the past, though had also been turned down.

Mr Ashdown-Hill said he was aware of The Queen's views on the matter, acknowledging that giving permission might set a precedent for disturbing royal remains.

But he added his quest to put together a DNA sequence for Mary Tudor would continue unfazed because once it was on record, it would remain forever.

And, he said, a future Dean of Westminster Abbey or Monarch might take a different view adding: “One has to take a long-term view.

“My intention is just to get a DNA sequence on record so that if anybody returns to this matter in the future they can look at my research.”

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