Royal row unravelled as alternative cause of death for Edward V exposed

EDWARD V was one of the two mysterious ‘Princes in the Tower', who disappeared 550 years ago - his uncle and predecessor King Richard III has often been blamed for his disappearance and assumed murder, but specialists have said there may have been another cause for the royal's demise.

PUBLISHED: PUBLISHED: 08:30, Sun, Sep 13, 2020

Edward V was 12 years old when he and his young brother Richard, Duke of York, went missing from the Tower of London in 1483. He was poised to inherit the throne from his father King Edward IV but, before his coronation, he was dubbed the product of an illegitimate marriage — meaning the crown was to pass over him. Richard III reigned for two years from 1483 to 1485, before being overthrown and killed by Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII.


Henry allowed the rumours swirling about Richard murdering his own nephews to continue throughout his reign, as they served as propaganda which reinforced his position on the throne.

Then in the 17th Century, the remains of two small skeletons were found in the Tower of London, and were assumed to be that of Edward and Richard.

Preserved in an urn in Westminster Abbey, they have only been disturbed once in 1933.

Based on that brief examination, the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine speculated in 1994 that Edward V may have suffered from a condition called histiocytosis X, also known as Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis.

Edward V was one of the mysterious Princes in the TowerEdward V was one of the mysterious Princes in the Tower (Image: Getty)

The Princes in the Tower remain one of history's greatest mysteriesThe Princes in the Tower remain one of history's greatest mysteries (Image: Getty)

An explanation of the disease on The Great Ormond Street Hospital website reads: “The immune system contains cells called histiocytes. Langerhans’ cells are a specific type of histiocyte that help fight infection in the skin.

“When a child has LCH, these cells spread through the bloodstream to other healthy parts of the body where they can cause damage.”

The condition has a much more positive prognosis now, and can be managed with treatments such as radiotherapy, surgery or chemotherapy.

However, the Royal Society of Medicine looked into whether it may have caused the death of Edward V during the medieval period, especially as it is more common in pre-pubescent boys.

READ MORE: Theory ‘Henry VIII was going stop Anne Boleyn’s execution’ uncovered

Medieval rumours claimed Richard III had them killedMedieval rumours claimed Richard III had them killed (Image: Getty)

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