New DNA tests reveal Britain’s long-lost King Richard III was blue-eyed and likely blond-haired, but they also raise intriguing questions over whether he — and other monarchs before and since — should have been on the throne at all. Experts researching the case of the “King in the car park” — a set of remains dug up from beneath a parking lot in the central English city of Leicester in 2012 — now say they are 99.999% positive that the bones are those of Richard III, who died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
Genetic specialist Turi King, from the University of Leicester, said analysis of various genetic markers offered tantalizing clues to Richard III’s appearance — suggesting that he was not the dark-haired, steely-eyed monarch portrayed in well-known historical images. “[There are] genes that we know are involved in coding for hair and eye color … The genetic evidence shows he had a 96% probability of having blue eyes, and a 77% probability of having blond hair, though this can darken with age.”
Tests suggest Richard III had blue eyes and — at least as a child — blond hair; this portrait is likely to be most accurate. While there are no contemporary portraits of Richard — all known works post-date his death by at least 25 to 30 years, leaving the artists who painted them open to charges that they were influenced by propaganda — the DNA findings suggest the arch-framed portrait of Richard, owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London, is the closest to his real appearance.