On another forum ( not history), a very large thread grew over a very short time with members criticising Philippa Langley and her " over the top histrionics" regarding the discovery and identification of the remains. Her insistance of draping a flag over the box of remains when they were removed from the dig site and her tears and sobs when the face of Richard was finally revealed. I found these comments quite cruel ( although she was extremely, shall we say, excitable). However, these were the remains of England's last Plantagenet King and not of some poor, faceless peasant and she had been central to the discovery. I could only compare her reactions to that of some dedicated historian, passionate about his/her subject - in this case, the Romanov bones - gazing down on the newly discovered remains of the Russian royal family.
I myself grew irritated with the Philippa Langley emotings but not because of her feelings in themselves, which were understandable in view of the heavy personal investment she had in the identification of the remains, but because of the intense television dwelling on this as it made for a more exciting programme, and because the amount of personal investment in a particular theory makes for bad history. One could tell, for example, that Philippa Langley was genuinely shocked that the skeleton of Richard III had clear spinal scoliosis, thus suggesting that the 'myth' of Richard's deformity was not in fact an absolute myth, but nevertheless cut into her view that the Tudors had invented everything
about Richard III. To a significant extent, her historical perspective is now based on emotion in this particular area, and by placing her as the focal point of the documentary, this emotion starts to validate for the watchers theories that have no basis in historical fact - that is, that Richard III was innocent of all
the crimes of which he was accused. She was convinced by some heavenly source that Richard's remains were under the car park, she was right, she was sure the remains found were his, she was right, she looks at the facial reconstruction and emotes that this is not the face of the killer - well, with the last she might be right but she might be wrong. The last theory is bad history. She is passionate about her subject, but I cannot compare her to a dedicated historian insofar as she has crossed the line between what she believes to be true and what she can demonstrate to be true. There are all sorts of reasons why people or institutions don't wish to acknowledge a particular truth, and sometimes it isn't necessarily for a bad reason, but there is just too much emotional investment in believing something different.
Yes, the look of horror on her face when the skeleton was revealed with its scoliosis was a thing to behold. It seemed like her bubble had burst!
I wonder what would have happened if it was shown that the skeleton was NOT Richard's.... the mind boggles :-)