Richard, Duke of Gloucester was named protector to Edward IV’s son, Edward V. Richard took an oath of loyalty to Edward V and assumed the role of protector on or about May 1, 1483. The first week of June, Bishop Stillington informed Richard that his brother’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of the princes, was bigamous, and their children were therefore bastards. Richard brought the case before the Bishops, Lords, and people and the children were bastardized June 25, 1483, making them inelligible for the crown. Richard was declared rightful king and was crowned July 6, 1483.
The Princes Edward and Richard were seen on the Tower grounds, some report up through the beginning of 1484, long after their uncle’s coronation. Some rumors had that they were spirited away to Flanders, and other rumors that both had been killed or that only Edward had been killed. Titilus Regius, enacted by Richard III’s parliament of early 1484, mentioned the princes as living at the time it was written.
Next to Richard, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham had the strongest claim to the throne, but he had to get past Richard once the princes were declared bastards. Furthermore, hed married to Woodville, and while it has been rumored he hated his wife and the Woodvilles, there is no contemporary evidence to support that claim.
As Constable of England, Buckingham would have ready access to the princes and some suggest he may have killed them and then started the rebellion in October of 1483 to overthrow Richard–ostensibly in Henry Tudor’s behalf, but as Richard executed him in that rebellion, his designs are unknown.
After the rebellion, Richard III wrote to his Chancellor, John Russell: “…the malice of him that had best cause to be true, the Duke of Buckingham–the most untrue creature living.” What had Richard learned? Had Buckingham killed the princes and now Richard had to carry the burden, unable to reveal it to anyone, lest his enemies pin the murders on him?
Henry Tudor lived in exile in France until he defeated Richard III in Battle on 22 August 1485. Once he became King Henry VII, he reversed and destroyed all copies but one of Titulus Regius which had made Richard III rightful king and had bastardized Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s children. He married Elizabeth of York, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s oldest daughter. He executed all the other potential York heirs to the throne, including Edward, Earl of Warwick (son of Edward IV and Richard III’s brother, George, Duke of Clarence).
Margaret Beaufort was Henry Tudor’s mother and wife to Thomas Stanley, Richard III’s Constable of England.
Lady Margaret Beaufort was descended from John of Gaunt’s son by his mistress and then wife, Katherine Swynford, and as such was a member of the royal house of Lancaster. Her first husband, Edmund Tudor, was the first earl of Richmond who died just before Margaret, at only age 13, gave birth to Henry of Richmond—her only child. Her third husband was Thomas, Lord Stanley, a supporter of Yorkist King Edward. She spent her years at the Yorkist court working to put her son on the throne. She is implicated—although nothing has been proven—in a plot to overthrow Richard’s protectorate and later in 1483 in Buckingham’s rebellion.