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  • Thesis Title: The Princes in the Tower A Review of an Historic Identification
  • Author: Helen James
  • Submitted as a requirement for: Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology
  • Date: December 1993

Abstract: Today most cases of forensic identification are undertaken for humanitarian reasons or as a precursor to criminal proceedings. There are instances however, when a correct identification would help to unravel mysteries of the past. In 1674 the skeletons of two children were found during renovation work in the Tower of London.

Workmen excavating under a staircase uncovered bones which were assumed to be the remains of the English “Princes in the Tower” – Edward V and his brother Richard Duke of York, who were last reported alive in 1483. Popular history has it that the Princes were murdered by their uncle, Richard III, after he assumed the throne in place of his nephew.

The bones were buried in Westminster Abbey by the order of King Charles II. In 1933 the urn was opened for examination, with the conclusion that the bones were indeed those of the Princes. The purpose of the current study was to determine if the methods used in 1933 for this forensic identification support the conclusions that were reached.