Search

Highgate cabinet maker’s DNA identifies car park skeleton of King Richard III

05:55 07 February 2013

Cabinet maker Michael Ibsen's DNA was used to prove that a skeleton found under Greyfriars car park in Leicester was that of King Richard III. Picture: PA/Gareth Fuller

Cabinet maker Michael Ibsen's DNA was used to prove that a skeleton found under Greyfriars car park in Leicester was that of King Richard III. Picture: PA/Gareth Fuller

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A softly-spoken Highgate cabinet maker has become the vital missing link that finally proved a skeleton exhumed from under a car park in Leicester was the remains of medieval monarch Richard III.

Dr Turi King from Leicester University gives Michael Ibsen a DNA swab during an archaeological search for the lost grave of Richard III. Picture: PA/Rui VieiraDr Turi King from Leicester University gives Michael Ibsen a DNA swab during an archaeological search for the lost grave of Richard III. Picture: PA/Rui Vieira

Michael Ibsen provided researchers with a swab of DNA from his mouth. This week it conclusively proved the bones buried in a hastily-dug grave in the remains of a Leicester church belonged to the missing monarch.

The 55-year-old, who lives in Highgate West Hill, is a distant royal relative of the king, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Mr Ibsen told the Ham&High it was still “difficult to articulate” how he feels about the discovery that he has blue blood as a direct descendent of Richard III’s elder sister, Anne of York.

“I haven’t started strolling around wearing a crown and ordering people around,” he said.

“It will be interesting to talk to my siblings about it as well because I don’t think any of us thought there would be a DNA match. It’s difficult to articulate.”

The monarch’s violent death marked the end of both the War of the Roses and the 331-year rule of the Plantagenet dynasty.

It was long rumoured that his remains had been removed from Leicester’s Greyfriars Church after the dissolution of the monasteries and thrown into the River Soar.

On Monday the identity of the badly-wounded skeleton, found with eight injuries to the skull, was declared to be Richard III “beyond reasonable doubt” by a team at the University of Leicester.

Mr Ibsen was invited to the dig in August and has kept in touch with researchers ever since.

“It was a huge shock,” he said of their discovery. “In the nicest possible way, it was startling and shocking in equal measure.”

In a bizarre coincidence, Mr Ibsen had developed a fascination with the king long before he was discovered in the car park.

“I knew the usual stuff you learn in school,” he said.

“But rather bizarrely I had read a novel about a detective trying to solve the mystery of the Princes in the Tower (the king’s young nephews who were reputedly murdered by him) and I was so fascinated I went to look at the portrait of Richard III that’s hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.”

Mr Ibsen, the king’s 17th generation nephew, was in the habit of visiting the gallery every few months to view the portraits.

He said it will take a while to digest the family connection. Mr Ibsen was a classical musician playing the French horn when he arrived in London in 1986, but decided to re-train as a cabinet maker and has a workshop in Hornsey Road, Islington.

Reflecting on how his profession links him directly to Richard III’s time, when the same skills would have been highly prized, he said: “To me, the archaeology is the most interesting thing. But people were saying to me ‘No, it’s you. You are flesh and blood’. I think they imagined me with wood shavings in my hair.

“But it’s a profound thought. There are some tools that we use today that would be almost exactly the same as those they would have used then, such as the chisel.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

15:00

Sadiq Khan will carry out a wide-reaching inquiry into foreign companies buying property in the capital - amid concern the flood of investment has fuelled rocketing house prices in local boroughs.

13:06

The Ham and High can today reveal the filthiest local restaurants and takeaways which officials say need “urgent improvement”

A police officer will not face criminal charges after being filmed repeatedly striking a man with his baton during an arrest even though the police watchdog found he has a case to answer.

Firearms officers raced to Prince of Wales Road in Kentish Town on Thursday evening to reports a man had been gunned down.

07:39

Campaigners are celebrating a double victory in their ongoing battle to stop Hampstead pubs being shut down by developers.

The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum has succeeded in getting two more much-loved pubs special blanket protection by being listed as “assets of community value” (ACV) by Camden Council.

Yesterday, 18:00

Plans to stack phone masts on top of a block of flats in Belsize Park have been making waves with angry residents

Yesterday, 17:38

A popular cafe in Waterlow Park is being dismantled prompting an outpouring of grief from customers who lined up to pay tribute to its charismatic owner

Yesterday, 16:00

Alexandra Park and Palace will decide tonight whether to apply for an events licence for the park, prompting fears over noise pollution and public access

PROMOTED CONTENT

Interested in purchasing a flat and want to know the rules, rights and regulations as a leaseholder? Or maybe you are already a leaseholder and want to find out more about extending your lease?

Scores of people visited the opening of Composite Door Master’s first public showroom in Hayes at the weekend, where they were treated to a spectacular show by award winning magician, Marc Oberon.

You’ve got cash, you’ve got style and you’ve got a bursting social calendar, but no time. These Crouch End studio suites to rent could be your dream come true.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now