The Duke of Buckingham made contact with Richard to meet in Northampton. Lord Rivers had sent word that he would arrive with the new King on April 29th. However, Rivers went to Stony Sratford and rode back to Northampton without Edward, having instructed the Royal party to set off early to London the next morning. At Northampton, Rivers was arrested and taken to Sherrif Hutton. Richard rode to Stony Stratford and Sir Richard Grey was arrested and sent to Pontefract. The pair were charged with attempting to crown Edward before Richard could claim the Protectorate.
The new King and the two Dukes entered London on May 4th, where young Edward was taken to the Bishop's palace at St. Paul's Cathedral, and all the leading peers in the Capital were called to swear fealty to him.
Richard re-organised the Council. He included Hastings, Buckingham, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Sir William Catesbury, Francis, Viscount Lovell, Cardinal Bouchier and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Rotherham, Archbishop of York retained his seat, although he lost the Chancellorship to John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln. Rotherham had, in Richard's eyes, proven to be weak, after handing over the Great Seal to Queen Elizabeth, when she heard that Richard had taken charge of her son, Edward. John Morton, Bishop of Ely and Lord Stanley, stepfather to the remaining Lancastrian hope, Henry Tudor, retained their seats. The latter three, Richard viewed with some well-founded suspicion.
It did not take long before he was proven to be correct. Lord Hastings had been the first to contact Richard after Edward's death. He had hoped to retain his previous positions with the Protector. Hastings had always been an enemy of the Woodvilles, being Edward's partner in debauchery and licentious living. Richard was initially grateful to him, but now he had Buckingham, who had proved so single-mindedly devoted to him. Richard had always deplored the low morals of Hastings, and found himself becoming more attached to the charming but self-serving Duke.
Hastings, feeling his position slipping away, turned to the hated Woodvilles. With Rotherham, Morton and Lord Stanley, he conspired to bring the Protector down.
*Click on pic for The Tower of London
Richard had declared the young princes illegitimate, after discovering that their father, Edward IV, had made a troth-plight with Lady Eleanor Butler. She was an older virtuous widow who died in 1468, fours years after his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Like Elizabeth after her, it appears that Eleanor was unwilling to become his mistress and then be set aside. A troth-plight was considered to be as binding as marriage unless it was dissolved by mutual consent. Lady Eleanor had been dead for fifteen years, and therefore it was impossible to determine the outcome of these vows.
Just prior to the coronation of the young King, Richard, as Protector of the realm, was approached by Robert Stillington, Bishop of Baths and Wells. A cleric at the time that he had witnessed this troth-plight, he was elevated to Bishop after Edward married Elizabeth and was made Lord Chancellor in 1467. He lost this office in 1470 with the return of Lancaster but was reinstated by Edward on York's return to the throne. He resigned in 1475 after a long illness and retired to his diocese in Gloustershire.
The Duke of Clarence retained some of his favourite seats in this region and it was understandable that the two should become good acquaintances. The charm of Clarence could very well tempt a man, who wished for a more important role in his life, to reveal a deadly secret. One that would have serious implications for the young King.
Bishop Stillingham had been imprisoned for three months after the death of the Duke of Clarence. Seemingly, Richard had not taken much notice, if any at all, at the time.
Various factions throughout the country, who aspired to Richard's downfall, for one reason or another continued to use young Edward as a figurehead for rebellion. Therefore the mystery surrounding the Princes' whereabouts gave cause for the accusation of murder against Richard.
In actual fact, there was very little for Richard to gain by this murder, and much more to lose. Although Richard had been living in the North and had not spent much time with the Princes, his well documented love and loyalty to their father should surely extend to his nephews.
Richard had been well received in London and throughout the country during a Royal progress two weeks after his coronation. After his authoritative and successful period as Lord of the North, the qualities that had endeared him to his subjects could undoubtedly be reproduced as the King of England. It would not be in his favour to jeopardise the status he had achieved. The Princes may have been an embarrassment for the House of York, but certainly not an obstacle to Richard's claim. There is no definite record of the Princes' being murdered, but there were some self-motivated individuals who had good reason to see this deed carried out and place the blame on Richard.