Following the successful reburial of the remains of philanderer and alleged child murderer King Richard III of England (1452 – 1485 AD) at Leicester Cathedral yesterday, I have started a new public limited company called Kings & Queens Reburied plc. The mission objective of this new enterprise is to find and rebury the bones of all English monarchs between 850 AD (Alfred the Great) to 1700 AD (Queen Anne) whose final resting place is currently unknown. I will be hiring men in anoraks with portable bone detectors. Applicants must be over 18 and capable of digging a hole, by hand, down to a depth of 2 metres. It will be hard, and sometimes gruesome, work. Weekly bonuses (geddit?) will be paid to those who find the most bones.
In the event of the unearthing of what could be royal remains, authentication will be carried out by a combination of DNA fingerprinting, radiocarbon dating, the ancient art of coin tossing, and astrology analysis. If the bones are certified as genuine, a full 5-day ceremonial reburial will be planned with days off for all English schoolchildren, the manufacture in China of commemorative mugs and other paraphernalia, official T-shirts (made in Bangladesh) bearing the to-be-reburied monarch’s image, a cortege for the final mile, and a farewell 21-gun salute. The event will be televised by the BBC which has negotiated exclusive television rights. The mandatory annual TV licence has been increased by 25% to allow for the extra expense.
Her Majesty the Queen of England, and elsewhere, has graciously agreed to be both the President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, stating ‘Each reburial will be an event of great national and international significance. I hope to bear witness to many re-inhumations and who knows, may one day be the star of my own reburial!’
In addition, the company has signed up the following patrons: Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), Benedict Cumberbatch (actor), Simon Schama (historian), Max Hastings (another historian), all out-of-work minor Royals (who will be compelled to search and dig), Mystic Meg (astrologer and psychic), and others to be determined. (I’m looking hard at Pippa Middleton.)
Lord Hutton (Chairman of the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly, alleged source of quotations concerning the Iraq war), Lord Penrose (Chairman of the Penrose Inquiry into contaminated blood products in the Scottish NHS), and Sir John Chilcot (Chairman of the still on-going Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war) have all agreed to jointly chair the committee that will produce suitably white-washed summaries of the life and achievements of each unearthed and reburied monarch. Each chairman has impeccable credentials for such a prestigious position and will receive a handsome stipend for his efforts.
A weekly TV combined news, quiz and talent show has been agreed with the BBC. The show, called Britain’s Got Monarchs, will be jointly hosted by Jeremy Clarkson and Sir David Attenborough. The entry theme tune will be James Weldon Johnson’s well-known spiritual song Dem Bones. Mike Jagger and Keith Richards of the ex-pop group Strollin’ Bones, have agreed to record a cover of this deeply moving song.
Finally, book series and film rights have been signed. The book series editor will be Hilary Mantel, well known for her turgid literary style; the film director will be Quentin Tarantino, an expert in portraying on-screen violence; and the actor to play a dead king will be Simon Cowell wearing his sombre trademark black T-shirt. The thespian to play a dead queen has not yet been signed but negotiations with Sir Elton John are well advanced.
Go find those bones!