Benedict Cumberbatch helped honor Richard III at the long-dead monarch’s reburial service — and it was only fitting, considering the actor’s close connections to the British king.
The Sherlock actor read a poem written specifically for the occasion by Carol Ann Duffy during the service at Leicester Cathedral, where the king, who died in battle 530 years ago and whose body was found under a parking lot centuries later, is finally being laid to rest with full honors.
Watch Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem for Richard III
Cumberbatch wasn’t chosen to read for his star power alone, however. It turns out he is actually one of Richard’s descendants: DNA testing determined that the Oscar nominee is actually the king’s third cousin, 16 times removed via Richard’s grandmother Joan Beaufort.
But that is not the only connection the star has to the monarch. Cumberbatch is also set to play Richard III in The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, a series based on William Shakespeare’s historical plays Henry VI, Part II, Henry VI, Part III, and Richard III.
“Whether we are Ricardians or Shakespeareans, whether we see through the eyes of Olivier, McKellen or Cumberbatch, whether we recognize a warrior or a scholarly pious thinker, today we come to accord this king, this child of God and these mortal remains the dignity and honor denied them in death,” said Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester.
“Five hundred years after the Wars of the Roses, we still face the risk of damaging tribal behaviors, of the destructive instincts which can so quickly turn neighbors into strangers and corrode our sense of the common good.”