I think the editorial ‘Sensationalism in science’ was a bit hard on Channel 4 over its first Richard III programme. The lady [Phillippa Langley] who was given much prominence had devoted much of her life to finding the grave and without her persistence none of it would have happened. For her, the success would be in the league of winning an Olympic gold medal or reaching the north pole, and far less likely. She deserved her moment of emotion.
The second programme was far more science based and gave proper air time to the DNA profiling, archaeology and genealogy. Turi King explained the rudiments of the profile (only given one sentence in the first programme) and, more interestingly, said that Y chromosome analysis would be carried out. To me that is probably just as significant as the mitochondrial results so far revealed. Both Richard and his nephews, the princes in the tower, should share the Y chromosome, which they would have inherited from Geoffrey of Anjou, Empress Matilda’s husband. This might be used to verify identity should any likely bones be discovered in the future. Unless of course, as Richard claimed, his brother Edward IV was not the child of his presumed father, Richard, Duke of York, but was the result of an adulterous liaison between their mother Cecily Neville and an ‘archer’ named Blackburn. In that case the Blackburn Y chromosome would be present. Perhaps the next search should be for a Blackburn descendent.
N Groocock MRSC
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