A Canadian link to Richard III?

Norm Ibsen sits in the living room of his London, Ont., home as he holds a photo of his late wife,...

Norm Ibsen sits in the living room of his London, Ont., home as he holds a photo of his late wife, Joy, who could be a descendant of King Richard III on Wednesday September 12, 2012. CRAIG GLOVER / QMI AGENCY

Alex Weber, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. — A Canadian family’s DNA could be the missing link in a centuries-long quest to find the remains of King Richard III.

A team of archeologists at the University of Leicester in England exhumed a skeleton believed to be Richard’s beneath one of the university’s parking lots Wednesday and are hoping DNA evidence from the London family will prove their suspicions true.

Richard was killed in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth -- often cited as the deciding battle in the War of the Roses -- by Henry VII, father of the famed King Henry VIII.

Richard’s rise to power -- it’s believed he had his nephews murdered in order to seize the thrown -- and short two-year reign as king, is chronicled in Shakespeare’s play Richard III.

In 2005, British historian John Ashdown-Hill traced Richard’s bloodline to Joy Ibsen, a retired journalist who moved to London, Ont., from England after the Second World War and raised a family.

Ashdown-Hill discovered Ibsen and Richard shared the same maternal ancestor, Cecily Neville.

Though Ibsen died in 2008, she passed the genes onto her three children Michael, who lives in the U.K., Jeff who lives in Toronto and Leslie on Vancouver Island.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Jeff, 49. “I wasn’t expecting the findings to be so concise ... I’m hoping that if there’s a proper funeral for him, we’ll get invited and maybe get a chance to rub elbows with some royals.”

The skeleton exhumed Wednesday was found in what’s believed to be the choir of the lost Church of the Grey Friars, the same place historical records indicate Richard was buried. Initial examinations also found trauma to the skull consistent with a battle injury and a barbed arrow through the skeleton’s upper back.

Especially telling is the spinal deformity found on the exhumed skeleton. It’s believed Richard had severe scoliosis, a form of spinal curvature that caused his right shoulder to appear visibly higher than the left, the same type of curvature found on the skeleton.

Norm Ibsen, Joy’s husband, still lives in London and said he was very excited by the discovery.

“I find it all very fascinating, it’s sort of an unreal feeling,” he said. “Joy was sort of skeptical at first when they told her but was thrilled by the revelation ... She’d love this. She was always a monarchist at heart.”

alex.weber@sunmedia.ca

 


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