Two Princes Staircase – London, England - Atlas Obscura

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Two Princes Staircase

Tower of London

Richard III supposedly disposed of his nephews' bodies here in an effort to seal his claim to the throne. 


In the White Tower, the old keep at the Tower of London, there is a small staircase tucked away near the entrance. Called the Two Princes Staircase, it’s where the skeletons of two children were found during renovations in 1674. It’s widely believed the skeletons are of the two princes who disappeared at the site in the late 15th century.

Though there has yet to be any scientific evidence to back up the claim, people throughout history have suspected the bones once belonged to Edward V and Richard Duke of York, the sons of King Edward IV. Although supporters of the Tudors claim that when the king died, his brother, Richard III (who was known as Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester prior to his coronation) had the boys murdered to cement his claim to the throne, although, there is no contemporary evidence of this. Titulus Regius had declared the princes illegitimate, due to Edward IV’s pre-contract. 

Richard III had originally taken them into his custody in the White Tower after their father’s death in April of 1483. There were no recorded sightings of the young princes after that following summer.

After the bones were discovered buried beneath the stairs in the 17th century, it became widely accepted that they were those of the two princes. Even Shakespeare, who, of course, was writing during the reign of the Tudors, portrayed Richard III as an evil, scheming, murderous uncle in his play of the same name.

But their true identity may never be known for certain. The two skeletons currently reside in Westminster Abbey, where they were reburied. DNA testing has never been conducted, as the Church of England (with Royal backing) has continually refused to allow anyone to exhume and examine the remains.

Know Before You Go

There is a display of the staircase up the first flight of stairs of the White Tower. Unfortunately, there is a information placard blocking the view, preventing a clear sight of the steps.

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