The Lost King | The Missing Princes Project | Shakespeare in Leicester Cathedral

The Princes in the Tower: Solving History's Greatest Cold Case
Published – (19 November 2023)

Philippa's eagerly-awaited and bestselling new book - The Princes in the Tower: Solving History's Greatest Cold Case is published today (UK, The History Press; USA, Pegasus Books). Here Philippa records the totality of evidences amassed by her and her international team in search of the truth behind the centuries-old mystery surrounding the Princes in the Tower. All done through her extraordinary new research initiative: The Missing Princes Project. The book records the now seven year investigation. For more, see here and here.

The Princes in the Tower Solving History's Greatest Cold Case

The Princes in the Tower: The New Evidence,
Channel 4 – (18 November 2023)

The long-awaited feature-length documentary special: The Princes in the Tower: The New Evidence (Brinkworth Productions) premiere's tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm. This extraordinary documentary reveals astonishing new archival discoveries surrounding the centuries-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower in 1483, Edward V (12) and Richard, Duke of York (9). Travelling across seven countries, Rob Rinder assesses the evidence amassed by Philippa Langley and her international team through The Missing Princes Project. What they uncover is set to rewrite the history books.

With all heartfelt thanks to the incredibly talented film team: Janice Sutherland (Director), Matt Kennedy (Director of Photography) Dr Emilia Chodorowska (Producer), Emily Shields (Commissioner, Channel 4), Xander Brinkworth (Executive Producer) and Malcolm Brinkworth (Executive Producer). We are in awe. x

The Princes in the Tower: The New Evidence, Channel 4. Rob Rinder and Philippa Langley outside the Tower of London. Photo: Robert Parfitt.

The Princes in the Tower: 'History is Being Rewritten' Breaking News – (16 November 2023)

The Richard III Society is the first to break the news regarding the extraordinary archival discoveries made by The Missing Princes Project research initiative and surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the Princes in the Tower in 1483. The five-year report of the project's international investigation is about to be revealed. 'From now on, history must take account of this new breakthrough evidence. No longer can anyone confidently claim the princes were killed by Richard III'. You can read the Press Release here and here. The Richard III Society is one of the oldest and largest historical societies in the world. The Society's Patron is HRH: Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

The Lost King wins Historia Prize 2023 – (13 November 2023)

On 13 November The Lost King film received the 2023 Historia prize in Paris. The Historia prize is organised by the reference History magazine Historia and it has been running since 2010 and rewards 12 titles (film, novel, documentary, exhibition) that best represent the historical discipline.

The organisers said ‘THE LOST KING was praised by the jury for its mastery of the story of Philippa Langley's search of Richard III’s remains, its English-language poetry and its touching tribute to Great Britain.’

With heartfelt congratulations to all the team. x

Pathé and The Lost King film accepting the Historia Prize 2023 in Paris.

Women of the Year Awards – (16 October 2023)

Thank you for the most enormous honour to be asked to the 2023 Women of the Year Awards at the Royal Lancaster in London. Was an unforgettable day and met the most extraordinary and inspirational women. This year, the event paid special tribute to the inspiring women in the NHS in its 75th year. In awe.

Image: Hoda Davaine for Dave Benett / Getty.

Sally Hawkins – Scottish BAFTA Nomination (11 October 2023)

Many, many congratulations to the incredibly talented Sally Hawkins for her Scottish BAFTA Award nomination. Nomination is for Sally's leading role as Philippa Langley in The Lost King film (dir. Sir Stephen Frears). With love and heartfelt congratulations x

Image: Dave Hogan

Stephen Frears Knighthood – King's Birthday Honours (17 June 2023)

Heartfelt congratulations to The Lost King film director Stephen Frears on his forthcoming knighthood announced today by Buckingham Palace in the King's (first) Birthday Honours List. Is richly deserved for our supremely talented and multi-award winning film and TV director. Arise Sir Stephen! With love and heartfelt congratulations x

Image: Dave Hogan

The Lost King – Trailer Released (2 February 2023)

IFC Films in New York have released their exciting new trailer for the forthcoming North American release of The Lost King film. You can view the trailer here and here. The Lost King will be on theatrical release across USA and Canada on Friday 24 March!

The Lost King - Longlisted by BAFTA (6 January 2023)

The Lost King has been longlisted by BAFTA in the ‘Outstanding British Film’ category. With all congratulations to the team for this recognition. Full list available here.

Gone Medieval (17 December 2022)

From Gone Medieval: ‘In recent weeks, cinema audiences have been enjoying The Lost King, which tells the story of the efforts of amateur historian Philippa Langley to find the remains of Richard III - lost for more than 500 years - beneath a social services car park in Leicester.

In this episode of Gone Medieval, Matt Lewis meets Philippa to hear the story of this amazing discovery.’ You can listen to Philippa’s story here.

‘This episode was edited and produced by Elena Guthrie and Rob Weinberg.’

With thanks to Matt Lewis and the Gone Medieval team.

Sally Hawkins - Best Lead Performance Nominee (4 November 2022)

Sending all congratulations to the amazing Sally Hawkins for her nomination for Best Lead Performance in The Lost King film, just announced today by the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) 2022. The Evening Standard who recently described Sally’s performance in The Lost King as ‘Oscar-worthy’ will, we’re sure, be watching, as will we!

The Lost King - UK and Eire Release (7 October 2022)

Following eight years in research and development, The Lost King film is finally released in the UK and Eire on Friday 7 October 2022. Described as a heart-warming and inspiring underdog story that is ‘hugely enjoyable ... A fantastic story brilliantly told’ and with Sally Hawkins’ performance ‘Oscar-worthy’. The film is garnering a huge buzz. With thanks to all for your rave reviews.

The Lost King - European Premiere at London (26 September 2022)

The Lost King received its European Premiere in London on Monday 26 September 2022 to huge acclaim. Its award-winning stars Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan, along with Harry Lloyd and Mark Addy, took to the red carpet. With them was award-winning director Stephen Frears, co-writer Jeff Pope and composer Alexander Desplat. Philippa, John, Max and Raife were also present to enjoy a fabulous evening.

Richard III Society Statement: The Lost King (10 September 2022)

To mark the world premiere of The Lost King film at the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday, the Richard III Society has released the following statement. You can read it here.

In blessed memory of our North Star; our constant (8 September 2022)

Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

Requiescet in pace

Never Forgotten

The Lost King: The Search for Richard III (Paperback: 18 August 2022)

John Murray announces publication of The Lost King. Now a major motion picture starring Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan with Harry Lloyd, The Lost King tells the remarkable story of Philippa Langley’s search for the lost grave of King Richard III of England, revealing the incredible moment when the 500-year-old mystery was solved by Langley as his remains were uncovered beneath a car park in Leicester.

The Lost King – World Premiere at Toronto (9 September 2022)

Pathé has announced that The Lost King will receive its World Premiere at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival on Friday 9 September 2022 as part of the Special Presentations programme. To mark the announcement, Pathé has released a new image from the film of Harry Lloyd as King Richard III, and launched the UK poster.

THE LOST KING - in UK cinemas on 7 October (Press Release)

The Lost King film tells the remarkable true story of how one ‘ordinary’ woman overcame every obstacle to track down the final resting place of Richard III. Starring Sally Hawkins & Steve Coogan, the film’s release in cinemas coincides with the 10th Anniversary of the discovery of the remains of Richard III, the last English king to die in battle.

In 2012, having been lost for over 500 years, the remains of King Richard III were discovered beneath a car park in Leicester. The search had been orchestrated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose unrelenting research had been met with incomprehension by her friends and family and with scepticism by experts and academics. THE LOST KING is the life-affirming true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on the country's most eminent historians, forcing them to think again about one of the most controversial kings in England's history.

The film reunites the Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning creative team behind box office and critical hit, Philomena – director Stephen Frears and writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.

Actor, Writer and Producer Steve Coogan said “It’s been wonderful to reunite with Stephen and Jeff to bring this extraordinary story to cinemas. Philippa Langley’s passion, hard work and determination literally changed history, and we all felt it was important that her and Richard III’s story was told.”

If you're interested in finding out more about the film then head over to @TheLostKingUK and follow for the latest news.

You can read the full Press Release here.

The Lost King (working title) – 2 September 2020

Steve Coogan to star in Richard III film The Lost King

Speaking on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on 2 September 2020, British actor Steve Coogan said: "Next year we're shooting a film about the woman who found the body of Richard III in a car park in Leicester." The actor/writer added, "I play her husband." The BBC and online news sites revealed the title of the cinematic feature that tells the dramatic story of Philippa Langley’s search for the king’s grave. The script is written by BAFTA award-winning and Oscar-nominated writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope who first teamed up for the highly successful and four-time Oscar-nominated hit, Philomena, in 2013. Jeff Pope is also the Head of Factual Drama for ITV Studios and the acclaimed writer of Pierrepoint (2005), Mrs Biggs (2012), Little Boy Blue (2017) Stan and Ollie (2018) and Confession (2019) amongst others. Oscar-nominated director, Stephen Frears (Philomena, 2013, The Queen, 2006, A Very English Scandal, 2018) is rumoured to be attached to the feature.

The film project was first brought to our attention in 2017 following an unannounced visit by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope to the Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester.

The writers are working closely with Philippa who hopes to be able to give more information about this very exciting project as soon as she is able.

Following nearly twenty years of study into the life and times of King Richard III, Philippa launched her new research project at the Middleham Celebrates Richard III Weekend in early July 2016. One of the key aspects of The Missing Princes Project is the search for neglected archival material in the UK and overseas. If you think you can help the project by hunting for new and neglected documentary evidence in your area, then please get in touch by completing the 'Confirmation of Interest' form on the project website (please see link below). There will be further updates from this exciting new research initiative as it progresses.

The Missing Princes Project

The Missing Princes Project aims to undertake new research into the enduring mystery of the disappearance of the sons of Edward IV, more commonly referred to as the 'Princes in the Tower’. It is currently believed that Edward V (12) and Richard, Duke of York (9) disappeared sometime during 1483-4. The research focus therefore aims to encompass any new historical material that may relate to the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, with particular reference to the reign of King Richard III (1483-5).

You can find out more about this exciting new research project here.

Renowned Destrier Duke – 8 May 2020

It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of the renowned destrier Duke, who passed away peacefully at his home in Northampton on 8 May 2020. Duke was one of the two destriers who led the coffin of King Richard III during the king’s reburial in March 2015. With his friend Coralito, a grey ridden by Dominic Sewell, he formed The Honour Guard for the medieval king who died in battle. Duke was ridden by Tobias Capwell. You can read more about this remarkable animal here.

Our very grateful thanks go to Dilys Hartland, editor of The Court Journal, for her kind permission to publish Duke’s obituary here for you, and to Dominic Sewell and April Bowles for telling us so much about him. For more stunning images of Duke (and Coralito) at the reburial of the king, please see here.

Cramond Inn Historic Blue Plaque – 6 April 2019

It is with great sadness and deep disappointment that nearly 5 years to the day since the historic blue plaque in the Cramond Inn in Edinburgh was unveiled it has now been taken down. The plaque marked where the successful search for the grave of King Richard III began.

We were informed that the owner of the inn, Mr Humphrey Smith, had taken the decision to return his many hostelries to their ‘heyday’. Anything outwith this period would therefore have to be removed. A spokesperson for the Cramond Inn said that Mr Smith has confirmed that the ‘heyday’ of the inn was in the eighteenth century. All other historic plaques on Mr Smith’s inns are also to be taken down so that they too can return to their ‘heyday’. Mr Smith has also banned all phones, laptops and tablets.

With thanks to all those who have written in to express their shock and deep dismay at the removal of this unique historic plaque.

The Scottish Branch of the Richard III Society

For the full statement please visit:

Bosworth Battlefield Under Threat – 24 August 2018

On the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth, 22nd August 2018, we learnt of a planning application to build an extensive driverless car track on the western location of this unique site of national importance. Many interested parties and organisations are deeply concerned at this development with the planning application about to end and with, apparently, no public announcements made. As a result, Philippa has joined the urgent call for a proper enquiry to now be held and has sent the following letter to Hinckley and Bosworth Planning Department (please see below). In doing this she is joining the many local voices now urgently raised against these new plans in this incredibly sensitive location together with those of the Richard III Society, Battlefields Trust and Tudor Society amongst many others. It is hoped that Historic England will now reconsider their position.

With thanks to Heather Broughton, and the Battlefields Trust:

Dear Sir or Madam


I am writing to you as a member of the Battlefields Trust and Richard III Society. The Battle of Bosworth is England's most important battle site where the 330 year Plantagenet dynasty came to an end, and the new Tudor dynasty began. It is also the location of the death of the last English king to die in battle. It is therefore unique. The battlefield is a site of national importance. In addition to its large and undoubted importance as a heritage asset it helps attract many visitors and generate income for the area. As such every square yard of it should be treasured not destroyed for our future generations.

The proposed development involves destroying land on part of the Registered Battlefield and is an area that may well have played an important part in the actual battle. Indeed historian Dr Michael K. Jones (Bosworth 1485: The Psychology of a Battle) believes it is the probable location of the defensive line of Henry Tudor’s Mercenaries. If this application is accepted because it is deemed only to cause minor harm to the battlefield, it can easily be followed by another piece of minor harm, and then another, until the sum of all this is serious damage. Moreover to walk the new battlefield trail would be seriously impacted and detract from its current historical import, beauty and viability – and for all generations to come.

For these reasons I would like to object to the above application and urge you to protect your valuable heritage by rejecting it.

With hope and look forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely

Philippa Langley MBE

Led the Search for Richard III

The following statement was issued by the Richard III Society and Philippa Langley on Sunday 22 July 2018:

Sadly an article published in a national UK newspaper today is inaccurate and misleading in its analysis of the science and history behind the ‘bones in the urn’ but more specifically in its untrue statements about support for a petition regarding the testing of these remains. Neither the Richard III Society nor Philippa Langley support the petition.

We have been informed very clearly that any analysis of these remains will not take place in the ‘foreseeable future’ and we must respect that wish.

A retraction has now been asked from the newspaper concerned. It is hoped that a factually accurate article might be available shortly.

A Further Letter to the Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral – 27 July 2017

Thank you for your letter of 19 July and for responding to some of the points made in mine of 6 July. However, I would like to respond to some of your points which I find misleading and inaccurate.

To confirm, my letter was dated 6 July and posted the same day with a first class stamp. I’m sorry that the postal service let you down, but you will appreciate this was out of my control. The ‘breach of trust’ that you refer to ‘over the years’ I believe reflects the difficult reburial period when many of the undertakings from my agreements locally were put to one side; specifically, the Catholic Place of Sanctity and Rest for the king prior to reburial. This you agreed to in our meeting of March 3 2013, in the presence of five witnesses, including two others from the Richard III Society. Arrangements with a local monastery were then finalised. However, sadly, you later reneged on this undertaking to the great disappointment of all those who were reliant upon it. You state that you have been working hard to ‘maintain frank and open channels of communication’ with the Richard III Society and Foundation. If this is the case, then we are at a loss to understand why the staging of Shakespeare’s play within the Cathedral came as such a surprise and a shock to both organisations.

The deleted posts to which we refer appeared on the Cathedral’s Facebook page, not twitter account, the majority respectful. A copy of these posts is available. The debate surrounding Shakespeare’s play has a long history, predating the king’s discovery and identification. We have simply requested that these particular performances take place in a suitable secular venue rather than the sacred, holy place where the king now lies at peace. It would seem that due to a lack of communication, I did not know about Michael Morpurgo’s reading in the Cathedral. Perhaps this might further suggest that communications are not working as well as you might wish.

In terms of ‘Dignity and Honour’, you will recall the Looking For Richard Project employed this banner and ‘honour and dignity’ in its various communications and in the Ricardian Bulletin magazine in 2012 and in The King’s Grave (2013). When the Cathedral adopted ‘Dignity and Honour’ in 2014 we hoped it reflected your acceptance and understanding of the ethos of the project that had commissioned and funded the search for the king. This undertaking of ‘Dignity and Honour’ was taken as a sign of trust by the public and the principal funding partners in the search. This funding, as you know, was raised on the basis of ‘search-find-honour’ and formed part of the Bishop’s Eulogy at the re-interment. Therefore, I hope you will understand when we state that there has been, in our opinion, a breach of this trust. Had you stated openly that ‘dignity and honour’ would last a couple of years at most, arrangements for reburial elsewhere would have been made. As you know, St Mary de Castro, where Richard’s father, the Duke of York, was knighted, had been proposed by the City Council, but as I had given my word it would be the Cathedral, I kept that word.

It is our understanding that the Cathedral is consecrated as one place of God, not in part. We do not ask that you cease to engage in cultural activities, just that in future you find an alternative venue for Shakespeare’s play, which we contend most reasonable people would consider does not offer dignity or honour to this named individual at rest within your care. The reburial of King Richard III with ‘dignity and honour’ in March 2015 healed so many wounds, making peace with the past and present, and was acclaimed as such. We only request that as a man of God and a spiritual leader, you deliver on your publicly stated promise, and search your heart and conscience so that these wounds, so recently reopened, can once again be healed.

Yours sincerely

cc. The Bishop of Leicester, the Mayor of Leicester, the Chairman of the Richard III Society

A Response from the Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral – 19.7.17

You can read the Dean’s response to Philippa’s open letter of 6 July here.

A Letter to the Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral – 6 July 2017

In reply to your published response to the recent petition opposing the performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ in Leicester Cathedral (Leicester Mercury 2 July 2017), I now wish to make the following points, which, for whatever reason, you are apparently choosing to ignore:

In March 2015, you reburied King Richard III of England with all ‘dignity and honour’, in accordance with the cathedral’s publicly stated position. As part of the reburial’s legal procedures, on Sunday 22 March 2015, before the remains of King Richard were placed in your care, the Ministry of Justice licence was handed to you by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS). As you know, this licence was initially issued to ULAS, who had been commissioned to undertake the digging work, and which specified that the remains shall be kept ‘safely, privately and decently’. This was a public obligation, undertaken by you on behalf of Leicester Cathedral.

Since receiving into your care both the licence and the king’s remains, you have now announced your plans for two performances of Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ to take place inside Leicester Cathedral, beside the king’s grave, on the 19th and 20th July. The play, as you are aware, was originally advertised and promoted with the subtitle ‘Something Wicked This Way Limps’. May I now respectfully reiterate that we have never requested the cancellation of the performances of the play, simply that you consider an alternative and more appropriate venue.

As you will recall, the clearly stated ethos of the Looking For Richard Project was to retrieve the remains of the last Plantagenet monarch in order to provide the respect and human dignity so conspicuously denied in 1485 when King Richard was killed on the field of battle. This ethos, which followed that of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was at the heart of the project delivered to Leicester. It was enshrined in my local agreements with the authorities in Leicester, and within the project’s Reburial Document. As you will also recall, the Reburial Document received the full backing and support of the land owner, Leicester City Council, who gave permission to undertake the archaeological dig, and the support of my contractor, the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, whom I commissioned to undertake the digging work.

In 2011, the Reburial Document was given to the Ministry of Justice, the Royal Coroner, the office of Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace, the office of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester at Kensington Palace, and the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of Leicester Cathedral. The Reburial Document followed the same principles and procedures as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and duly received the further approval of the Ministry of Justice, the Royal Coroner, the office of HRH The Duke of Gloucester, and the blessing of Her Majesty The Queen. The Very Revd Vivienne Faull requested two minor amendments and with these in place confirmed the Reburial Document as the blueprint for honourable reburial and safe custody, should the king be found. On this basis, we finally cut the tarmac on August 25 2012.

With the above in mind, we now wish you to fully comprehend our unequivocally stated position. The staging of Shakespeare’s defamatory play beside the king’s grave is not an appropriate or Christian act, and directly contravenes not only your own commitment to rebury the king with ‘dignity and honour’, but also your public acceptance to keep the remains ‘safely, privately and decently’.

Richard III was an anointed king of England and a former Head of State who fell in battle, and these performances constitute a breach, not only of the trust placed in the Cathedral and the great city of Leicester and its people, but also of the Ministry of Justice licence accepted by you. It is also important for you to consider whether Westminster Abbey would ever consider staging a performance of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’, for example, beside the grave of the Unknown Warrior.

We also note that in relation to the petition which was handed to one of your representatives, you state ‘some such as you have voiced concern, many others welcome our decision.’ However, it is apparent from social media that the majority of the feedback you received on the Leicester Cathedral website was against the performance, with many commentators asking you to reconsider the venue. It is a shame that you felt the need to remove these comments and indeed then ban further postings on this subject which was seen as a move to prevent further consensus of opinion proving that your decision to hold the play within the Cathedral was ill-considered. There will always be those who will buy tickets to performances just because they are controversial. This is clearly just such a performance and would have been recognised as such long before the event was actually marketed.

Whilst we appreciate that Leicester Cathedral is increasingly concerned with promotional activities which have both cultural and commercial considerations, all we ask is that an alternative venue is urgently arranged. This will allow the cathedral to continue to hold annual Remembrance Day services, honouring those who have fought and fallen in battle, without appearing completely hypocritical.

We therefore request an urgent reconsideration of the venue of these performances so that King Richard may continue to receive the dignity and honour afforded all our fallen in battle. The precious trust placed in your hands and in the great city of Leicester and its people demands nothing less.

Your sincerely

Philippa Langley MBE

Led the Search for Richard III

cc. Rt Rev Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester

Sir Peter Soulsby, Mayor of Leicester

Dr Phil Stone, Chairman, Richard III Society

A Statement on Behalf of the Looking For Richard Project – 8 May 2017

It is with great shock and deep disappointment that we have learned of Leicester Cathedral’s plans to stage in July two performances of Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ by Antic Disposition Theatre Company (‘Something Wicked This Way Limps’). The performances are to take place in the cathedral itself where King Richard now lies at rest.

It was the unequivocally stated ethos of the Looking For Richard Project to retrieve the remains of the last Plantagenet monarch and to provide them with the respect and human dignity so conspicuously denied in 1485 when King Richard was killed on the field of battle. This ethos, which followed that of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was at the heart of Philippa Langley’s agreements with partner institutions and organisations involved in the search for Richard III.

It was our sincere hope that by the time of the king’s re-interment in 2015, this ethos would have been firmly embraced by the Dean and Chapter of Leicester Cathedral. Instead we were faced with a difficult and frustrating two year battle, fought largely behind the scenes, to secure for King Richard the manner of reburial which had been planned and agreed from the start. Central to this often acrimonious dispute was Leicester Cathedral’s part in obstructing previously agreed plans to allow King Richard’s remains to lie in a place of Catholic Sanctity and rest prior to reburial. Eventually, however, under the cathedral’s publicly adopted banner of ‘dignity and honour’, these and other disappointments were put to one side and King Richard was finally laid to rest with the respect deserved.

The Looking For Richard Project, and all those who donated to Philippa Langley’s last-ditch appeal to save the search for the king, and who consequently became her principal funding partners on the basis of ‘search-find-honour’, deplore and condemn Leicester Cathedral for this wholly unprincipled commercial and promotional venture. As a result, we now join with the Richard III Society in urgently calling for the performances of ‘Richard III’ in Leicester Cathedral to be relocated to an alternative venue, and request that no future performances of any play or film that might be considered derisive or humiliating to the memory of the king be contemplated, where, it is important to remember, the man himself now lies.

We therefore call upon the Dean and Chapter of Leicester Cathedral to act in accordance with the above and bestow upon King Richard the dignity and honour afforded to all our fallen in battle.

Philippa Langley MBE

Led the Search for Richard III