The “Princes in the Tower”; Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York; were murdered by their uncle Richard III in 1483. Richard, then the Duke of Gloucester, coveted the crown and contrived an elaborate scheme to disinherit his nephews and obtain the throne. Once he had set the crown upon his head the boys were a threat to him and his rule as long as they were alive. He had no choice but to sanction their murders.
Richard had the two boys confined in the Tower of London, supposedly for their protection. In his capacity as Lord Protector, the effective ruler of the kingdom, he kept delaying the coronation of his nephew, Edward V, until finally putting it off indefinitely. Then, lastly, he had the English Parliament pass a law declaring his nephews bastards and unable to inherit the throne so he could become King of England in 1483. After the late summer of 1483, the boys were seen less and less until they finally disappeared from the public view all together. It was rumored in many quarters that they had been murdered by their uncle.
Though Edward V and his brother had been declared bastards, this was no absolute guarantee that they would not inherit the throne one day. William the Conqueror had been an illegitimate child and eventually gained the throne of England on the battlefield from Harold II in 1066. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the Lancastrian claimant to the throne, based his claim on illegitimate decent from John of Gaunt and was currently aspiring to due the same against Richard III. Thus, the king was faced with both internal and external threats to his rule. He would have to eliminate both of them for him to stabilize his reign over England.
Sir James Tyrrell admitted in 1501, under torture, while being interrogated on charges of rebellion, that he killed the Princes on Richard III’s orders. He described how he and two other men murdered the Princes. This confession by one of Richard’s trusted aids provides the most damning evidence against Richard III for the murder. It links motive to action.
All evidence points to Richard III in the disappearance and murder of his nephews. It is undisputed that he had them imprisoned and disinherited. His own long time servant admitted to killing the Princes on his orders. Then, lastly, several rumors existed that he had murdered Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York, and he never took any opportunity to disprove them and better legitimize his rule.