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The Truth Behind the Princes in the Tower

Updated on December 17, 2016
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then you haven’t followed British conspiracy theories. This goes back hundreds and hundreds of years to the time the Tudors came to the throne. Edward IV was dying. His son was to become king, but being a minor Edward made his brother Richard protector. From there, all manners of suspicious activities occurred leading to one of the greatest mysteries in history.

The Story

Edward V was only twelve years old when he assumed the throne. His father had just died from an illness, leaving the young boy the next king of England. Immediately, everyone of power in the country began to make their move to secure their position with the new leader and with those they saw as the true leaders. Henry IV was gathering followers to claim the throne as his own.

Richard was given the position as protector of Edward and took the role seriously.He called for his young nephew to be put in the tower to await his coronation. That was not unusual. Many rulers had done the same thing, but then he called for Edward's little brother. These were the only two male heirs to Edward IV. Richard refused to release the boys to their mother.

Edward V's reign was extremely short as claims from his uncle, the protector, were heard and recognized stating that Edward IV’s marriage to the new king’s mother was never legal. That meant that he was not the rightful heir to the throne. Richard was the next in line. The boys were reported to still be in good health until there were no reports of them at all.

Even before Richard officially claimed the throne, Edward V and his brother were being seen less and less. It wasn’t long after Richard was king that the two young princes were seen no more. Put into the Tower of London for ‘protection’, their whereabouts are still unknown.


Big Questions

There are many questions that go unanswered about this mystery.

Did Richard have them killed?

Where they secreted away to safety?

Did Henry Tudor or his mother have them killed?

Where are the princes in the tower?

Who was involved in their disappearance?

Will history ever know the truth?

What We Know

Unless a letter is discovered or other concrete evidence proving the death of the boys, the world will never know. It is a mystery so far back in time that the evidence is missing completely. The only thing we know for certain is they are dead. Did they die as small children or as adults in a foreign land? Did they die at the hands of their uncle or someone else? Who was involved? How did the story end? We will never know.



The idea of Richard killing them has become a fight between two camps. Many believe that Richard was completely innocent while others believe he was the devil incarnate. Some felt that he expertly dispatched them so there was no one standing in his way to claim the crown. Others felt that he was framed by his enemies.

The truth is that it all depends on your perception of the controversial British ruler. Richard could have had the interest of the boys at heart in his decision to put them in the tower. He might have unwittingly led them to their deaths. Or he could have planned it all to get the throne. He had the motive. He had the opportunity. Henry had the motive, too, but his opportunity was less than Richard's. There are many possible solutions to this centuries old mystery.

Edward V and his brother were targets for many people. The truth is that anyone who wanted that throne had to get them out of the way. If they were secreted away, they would have had to let the throne go forever. What legitimate ruler would allow that?

The truth? We will never know, but we can have debating our own ideas.


It seems that everyone is pointing a finger at Richard. He very well could be guilty or he was guilty by association. Others feel that associates of his had the boys murdered in order to win favor with him. Maybe that happened. Some others have proposed that the young boys' mother was able to switch the young boy with a peasant in order to save him. Years later a young man came forward with the claims that he was the young Richard that had disappeared with his brother. Even Edward IV's own sister believed the claims and tried to get support to put the young man on the throne, but Henry Tudor held fast and managed to keep the throne in his family line. It helped that he was legitimately married to the young princes' oldest sister which ensured the line through Henry.

Oh, so many possibilities and no answers.


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