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Benedict Cumberbatch at Richard III reburial: 'Imitation Game' actor reads poem at British king's ceremony

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch reads a poem during the

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch reads a poem during the reinterment ceremony of England's King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral in central England on March 26, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Matt Short

"Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch recited a specially commissioned poem by England's poet laureate on Thursday at the reburial of 15th century British monarch Richard III, whom the actor recently learned is a distant relative.

"My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil, a human braille," Cumberbatch, 38, addressed the crowd at Leicester Cathedral in England's East Midlands, reading the opening lines of "Richard" by Carol Ann Duffy. "My skull, scarred by a crown, emptied of history. Describe my soul as incense, votive, vanishing; you own the same. Grant me the carving of my name."

The actor, who was nominated for an Oscar this year for "The Imitation Game," was among the crowd of more than 200 who attended the reburial service for the controversial king whose remains were unearthed in a Leicester parking lot in 2012 and confirmed through DNA matching of two living descendants.

On Wednesday, the University of Leicester announced that Professor Kevin Schürer, a genealogical scientist instrumental in proving Richard III's identity, had earlier in the year confirmed Cumberbatch and the king are second cousins, 16 times removed. While it is estimated that between 1 million and 17 million people in the United Kingdom are related to the former Plantagenet monarch, the university said, few have such direct lineage.

"He is linked in several ways," Schürer said in a statement, "but in terms of number of generations, the shortest is via Richard's mother. . . . He also has more indirect links to both Queen Elizabeth II and Lady Jane Grey through other ancestors in his tree."

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