The king and the car seat

Big news this week: a woman gave birth to a baby boy. However, in the style of M&S this baby isn’t just any baby, this is another significant stalk on the family tree of the Kings and Queens of England pull-out-and-keep wall chart kind of baby.

I reflected on the conflicts of the baby’s father, Prince William: his loathing of some elements of the media, his sense of duty, participation in a full royal agenda yet a stubborn insistence on his ‘ordinariness’. Wills’ successful installation of his newborn son and car seat into their 4×4 before the family’s subsequent escape to his in-laws was rather touching.

Richard IIIAnd from one new prince to an old king; excavations continue after the media meltdown surrounding the discovery last year of England’s last Plantagenet king in a Leicester City Council car park. I walked past the dig site on Saturday en route to the Mayor’s Parlour at the Guildhall to see R3: Hunchback or Hero? by Centre Five Productions (www.centrefiveproductions.co.uk ). This is an inspired piece of programming: the Guildhall (current home to the Richard III: Leicester’s Search for a King visitor centre)  is said to have had a visit from William Shakespeare, principal author of Richard III’s reputation for villainy, deformity and general toad-like qualities. Using historical records alongside Shakespeare’s text, this production questions Richard’s popular perception and asks was he really so bad? After all, even with all those people  fawning around at court, the wearer of the crown is in a pretty  lonely place.

In a heatwave-hot yet atmospheric setting, a compelling and physical performance by Timothy Allsop kept the audience engaged throughout as Shakespeare’s words were put on trial using words as written by the recorders of the day and the few facts known about this infamous king. To quote my daughter: “In your face, Shakespeare.”

I’ve written about Richard III before; I’ve grown to admire him and am enjoying the interpretation of his early years in The White Queen (BBC 1). As well as his skills as a soldier and militarian Richard married for love and was understandably devastated when his wife and son died during his two year reign, most likely of TB. No wife-poisoning plot there.

The crown is both lure and burden. Richard and his medieval contemporaries craved its power and were willing to kill to wear it.  I’d say nowadays some would kill not to.

Further details about R3: Hunchback or Hero may be found here along with details about other Richard III events in Leicester.

Picture Emma Vieceli, Kate Brown and Paul Duffield,  http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/media-centre/richard-iii

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