Regicide is the act of killing a king— something that the British monarchy had endured for centuries, with some of the rulers not even being given a chance to reign. Some were just blatantly killed, with the murderer sometimes succeeding the throne. That was the case when Malcolm III assassinated and usurped Lulach. There were also some monarchs whose deaths were a bit of a mystery, perhaps laced with unfortunate events, perfect timing, or something else. With that, here are three monarchs whose deaths were a mystery.

Edward V of England

Edward V was 12 years old when he succeeded his father, Edward IV, after his death in April 1483. However, he was never officially crowned King of England as his reign was cut short that June of that same year. His uncle, the Duke of Gloucester Richard III, largely controlled his brief reign. Soon, he and his younger brother were moved by their uncle to the Tower of London, and the parliament declared Richard III the new and legitimate king. On the other hand, the princes were confined to the inner apartments of the Tower. By summer, the boys were seen less and less. Until one day, they never reappeared from the public, as if they had just vanished from the earth.

In 1647, the workers tasked to rebuild the Tower found bones in a staircase suspected to be of the princes. However, in the 1930s, the bones were reinspected and were found to be incomplete skeletons mixed with animal bones. This led to a serious debate and confusion on whether the bones were really of the two royalties.

In 1789, workers who were repairing the St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle accidentally tapped into the vault of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. It was adjoined to another bolt with tombs inscribed with the names of two of his children who died before him: George and Mary. What was baffling was that the remains of these two children were later found somewhere else in the chapel, which posed the question: Whose remains were in their tombs? Did their uncle murder the two princes to secure the throne? Did he perhaps rearrange all these bones so no one could figure out what he did? Could these two be relocated outside the royal court and live an ordinary life? No one knows.

William II of England

William II of England. (Matthew Paris, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The third son of the famous William the Conqueror, William II, sat on the throne in 1087. One August morning of 1100, he went to the New Forest to go for a hunt when an arrow of one of the members of his hunting party shot him through the lungs. Perhaps as part of a plan, the nobles left their king’s body until a passing peasant found him dead and cold. His younger brother Henry I immediately succeeded him on the throne, even before an Archbishop could arrive. There were speculations about whether he was assassinated or if it was indeed nothing but a hunting accident. One thing to note was that rivalry between brothers was common then, and Henry I was among the hunting party that day.

Alexander III of Scotland

Alexander III at an English parliament summoned by Edward I. (Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

When his first wife and three children died, Alexander III was under pressure to provide a male heir to succeed his throne. So, in November 1285, he married Yolande. The king met with his peers in Edinburgh Castle to celebrate his recent marriage five months later. But that night, he wanted to return to Fife to visit his wife just in time for her birthday. The storm was unforgiving that night, but despite his advisors’ pleas, Alexander insisted that they ride the stormy night.

They began their travel back home with two local guides and his entourage. Somehow somewhere along the way, he was separated from the team. By morning, they saw the king’s body with a broken neck at the shore’s edge.

It was believed that the king’s horse lost its footing, and they fell and died in the fall, although there weren’t any cliffs nearby that could’ve broken his neck. No one knew how exactly he died. However, they knew Scotland suffered from a serious succession of crises after his death.