Richard, Buckingham, Catesby, and Cardinal Bourchier escort Prince Edward into London. At first, the Prince is perturbed that more of his uncles – specifically on his mother’s side – aren’t there to greet him. He is a King now after all. Richard explains that Edward shouldn’t worry about them because they’re sneaky and awful. That doesn’t seem right to Edward, but before Richard can argue any further, the Lord Mayor enters.
Edward asks him why his Mother and younger brother, York, aren’t there. Even Hastings isn’t there to explain everything! It’s all very rude to a new King. In a contrived moment of impeccable timing (which happens A LOT), Hastings enters to explain that the Queen and York have taken sanctuary. Well…York wanted to leave, but his mom said no. Buckingham tells the Cardinal to persuade the Queen to let the Prince go. If that doesn’t work, Hastings will be there to drag York out. The Cardinal has a few objections to this, mainly that it would break “the holy privilege of blessed sanctuary.” Buckingham tells him to not even worry about it because to have sanctuary one has to claim sanctuary and since the prince never claimed sanctuary, his mother did, then he is not protected by sanctuary. Besides he’s only heard heard of sanctuary of men, not sanctuary of children. This logic seems to appease the Cardinal and they go off.
The Prince asks where he and his brother should stay until the coronation. Richard kindly suggests they stay in the Tower, which is definitely not a part of his evil plot. Edward brings up the fact that Julius Caesar built the Tower, pretty much so he could talk about his desire to conquer France. During this whole exchange, Richard makes a few snide comments about dying young.
Hastings and the Cardinal return with York. He almost immediately starts taunting Richard about the weed insult mentioned earlier. Richard tries to laugh and change the subject. Then, York asks if he can have Richard’s dagger, which he turns over willingly. Then, York asks for his sword. Richard turns this down because it’s too heavy. The Prince tells Richard he can “bear with” York, referring to their sparring talk. York decides the Prince meant that Richard should bear him and hops on Richard’s shoulders…Richard who has severe scoliosis.
Richard tells the Prince that he and Buckingham will try to coax his mother out and they can all meet him at the Tower later. York worries about Clarence’s ghost, but Richard tells him not to worry and off they go.
Buckingham comments that York must have been such a little jerk at his mother’s urging. Then, they ask Catesby if he thinks Hastings will come to their side and be trusted with their dastardly plans. He doesn’t think Hastings will. Buckingham urges him to test Hastings inclinations again at the Tower and report back because they are holding two separate councils tomorrow. Richard tells Catesby to also tell Hastings that the Queen’s allies will be killed at Pomfret castle tomorrow. Catesby agrees to do so. Richard explains that if Hastings doesn’t come to their side, they will have to kill him.
A messenger from Lord Stanley wakes Hastings up in the middle of the night to tell him about Stanley’s ominous dream where a boar bested him. He thinks it foretells that the two councils will turn on each other, so he wants to prepare for battle. Hastings says he’s being silly and tells the messenger to have Stanley come to him.
Catesby comes up after the messenger leaves and casually mentions that Richard should be King. Hastings replies with “over my dead body.” Catesby tries to butter him up with the news that his enemies, the Queen’s allies, are going to die. The news cheers him up quite a bit. Stanley comes up. Hastings taunts him a little, but he still fears some dark omens. Stanley and Catesby head to the Tower.
Stanley greets a friend walking by and tells him that the Queen’s allies are to die and then gives him some drinking money. Stanley also briefly conspires with a priest, but we don’t get to hear what he said. Buckingham enters to talk about the people dying again before they head to the Tower.
Time for Rivers, Vaughan, and Grey to die. They bemoan the fact that they are dying in the same place Richard II was killed. They also reflect on Margaret’s curse and kindly remind the audience that she cursed Hastings, Buckingham, and Richard, too. Then, they go off to die.
The Lords Buckingham, Derby, Hastings, the Bishop of Ely, Ratcliff, and Lovel convene their meeting to discuss the coronation. They are trying to decide on the date, but no one knows what Richard would want. Buckingham insists that he hardly even knows Richard, surely Hastings is the better man for the job. Hastings says tomorrow would be fine.
Just then, Richard enters and seems pleased to hear that Hastings spoke for him. He sends Ely out for some strawberries and pulls Buckingham aside. They decide Hastings has to die and leave the room. Ely returns with the strawberries and they all comment on how Richard must not hate any of them because he is not good at hiding his true emotions.
Richard comes back and blames the Queen and Mistress Shore for withering his arm through witchcraft. Hastings says “if the Queen did it.” Richard gets very angry at that “if” and sentences Hastings to death for siding with the Queen. Absoutely no one disagrees with this and they all leave except Hastings, Ratcliff, and Lovel. Hastings remembers Margaret’s curse before he’s put to death off stage.
Richard and Buckingham prepare to put on a show of fear for the Lord Mayor, which they do when he arrives. They calm down when they see Ratcliff and Lovel, who bring him Hastings’ head. They explain that Hastings conspired to kill them both and even though they really wanted to wait for proper legal recourse, they just had to kill him right away. The Mayor completely understands and promises to back their story before he leaves.
Richard send Buckingham after him to plant the idea that Edward (the former King) was illegitimate and so are his children since Edward had many mistresses. He recommends caution since his mother is still alive. Buckingham promises to do his best. Richard explains that he will be Baynard’s castle with the holiest and most learned men. He sends Buckingham and Catesby to fetch two of those men.
After they leave, Richard plans to take Clarence’s children out of the picture before making sure no one is around the two Prince’s for awhile.
Random Scrivener comes in to reveal that he wrote up a warrant of death for Hastings long before he died. He questions how no one can see that Richard is up to some serious shenanigans.
Turns out the citizens were not picking up what Buckingham was laying down. He told them that Edward was probably illegitimate and his sons were DEFINITELY illegitimate and that Richard was super amazing, but they still didn’t want him to be King.
Richard and Buckingham decide to try again, but this time Buckingham would ask Richard, who would be praying with two priests, to be King and Richard would say no. This will make it look like Richard doesn’t even want to be King, so he couldn’t possibly be trying to kill everyone in his pursuit of power.
They execute this plan exactly. After asking Richard to step away from his “prayer” twice before Richard actually comes out, Buckingham gives a long speech asking Richard to be King because his people need him. England is marred with an illegitimate royal family. Richard says no because he’s dear, sweet nephew is King. Buckingham details how Edward pretty much slept with everyone in England, so the Prince is definitely illegitimate. Richard says no again and Buckingham leaves with the citizens.
Richard calls them back and agrees to be King since they insisted. They decide to crown Richard tomorrow and rejoice!