Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham was appointed as Constable and Chamberlain on 15 July 1483. These key positions recognised the Duke’s importance and provided him with roles of state and significant responsibilities. Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham, initially allied himself with Richard Duke of Gloucester following King Edward IV’s death. He was of royal blood, descending from Edward III through the line of John of Gaunt. As such, he was a prominent noble.
Buckingham’s rank led to him being appointed as Chamberlain and Constable of England. The former recognises his importance within the court and effectively places him in charge of the King’s household. The latter appointment is of more interest to historians.
The Constable of England was the highest of judicial positions, enabling the holder to administer justice on the King’s behalf. Such powers had previously seen Richard himself preside over hasty trials and executions following the Battle of Tewkesbury.
Buckingham’s tenure was short-lived. He rebelled in the Autumn of 1483 and was executed for treason. However, his time in the position coincides with the period when the Princes in the Tower disappeared.
This has led some historians to speculate that Buckingham may have used his authority as Constable of England to access the Princes and murder them. That suspicion was raised at the time. One Portuguese account observed that:
“…and after the passing away of king Edward in the year of 83, another one of his brothers, the Duke of Gloucester, had in his power the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, the young sons of the said king his brother, and turned them to the Duke of Buckingham, under whose custody the said Princes were starved to death.” Alvaro Lopes de Chaves, Secretary to the King of Portugal