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Richard III burial prompts legal battle

LONDON — A British High Court judge on Friday granted a group of King Richard III’s relatives permission to challenge plans to rebury the 15th-century monarch in the central England city of Leicester, where his remains were found last year.

Judge Charles Haddon-Cave said the Plantagenet Alliance could take action against the government and the University of Leicester, though he hoped the dispute could be settled out of court.

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Richard was deposed and killed in a battle near Leicester in 1485 and quickly buried without a coffin in a now-demolished church in the city, which is 100 miles north of London. A skeleton found under a Leicester parking lot last year was identified as the king through DNA tests, bone analysis, and other scientific study.

The discovery thrilled history buffs — as well as Richard’s supporters, who hope to rehabilitate the image of a king whose villainous reputation was cemented by William Shakespeare’s ‘‘Richard III.’’

But it sparked a scuffle over where the last British monarch to die in battle should be reburied.

The government gave Leicester Cathedral a license to rebury the king, but the relatives’ group wants him interred in the northern England city of York, claiming it was Richard’s wish.

Richard belonged to the House of York, one of two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty involved in a 15th-century battle for the crown known as the Wars of the Roses.

The judge said he hoped a legal battle could be avoided by setting up an independent advisory panel to recommend the best burial site.

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