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Richard III poem will be read by … cousin Benedict Cumberbatch

"Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch will read a poetic tribute to King Richard III at Thursday's reburial at Leicester Cathedral.
/ Source: NBC News

“Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch – who is playing Richard III on TV and recently found out he’s a third cousin, 16 times removed – will read a poetic tribute to the storied English king at Thursday’s reburial at Leicester Cathedral.

The 14-line poem, titled “Richard,” was penned by Britain’s poet laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy. The full text won’t be revealed until Thursday’s services, but it includes the phrase “grant me the carving of my name.”

Richard III was killed ignominiously in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and his burial site was forgotten. After years of sleuthing, archaeologists unearthed his bones in 2012 under a Leicester parking lot, and then verified his identity using DNA. That set the stage for Thursday’s all-out reinterment ceremony, during which Richard will finally be granted a resting place that’s carved with his name. Thousands of VIPs and fans of the much-maligned monarch are expected to attend.

Cumberbatch’s cousinly connection was traced by the same researchers who identified distant relatives of Richard III for DNA testing. The actor, who stars in the “Sherlock” TV series and was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “The Imitation Game,” will portray Richard III in “The Hollow Crown,” a BBC adaptation of Shakespeare’s history plays.