OLD ROYAL FAMILY
PRINCE EDWARD, his only son
LADY ANNE, Prince Edward's widow, later married to Richard
NEW ROYAL FAMILY
DUCHESS OF YORK. widow
KING EDWARD, her eldest son
QUEEN ELIZABETH, his wife
PRINCESS ELIZABETH, 15, their daughter
PRINCE OF WALES, 12, their eldest son and heir to the throne
YOUNG PRINCE, 7, their youngest son
CLARENCE, middle son of the Duchess of York
RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of the Duchess of York
FUTURE ROYAL FAMILY
HENRY RICHMOND, lieutenant-commander in the navy
LORD STANLEY, air vice-marshal, Richmond's uncle
GEORGE STANLEY, his son
EARL RIVERS, Queen Elizabeth's brother
DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM LORD HASTINGS, the Prime Minister
LADY HASTINGS, his wife
SIR ROBERT BRACKENBURY, Governor of The Tower
WILLIAM CATESBY, the monarch's permanent private secretary
JAILER AT THE TOWER
Buckingham seems like a permanent fixture and ornament of the Establishment — at every important event, knowing everybody, getting on with everybody. It's not just his charm that makes him so welcome. A Duke is always impressive. There are very few Dukes and all of them have a lot of land. How well does anyone really know him? Like Lord Arnold Goodman ("everybody's" solicitor) the image is all — bonhomie, dependability, discretion, flair. Perhaps Buckingham retires each night to a lonely bed in Albany. Richard takes the trouble to work out that Buckingham is greedy and greed is at the basis of their relationship. Not that Buckingham needs much bribing to get him involved as Richard's agent or kingmaker. He loves the sweet-talking and the civilised intrigue. With Richard's ascendancy, Buckingham, perhaps for the first time in his life, actually has an exciting purpose to his life. He mistakenly thinks that Richard can be controlled. Their partnership is never an equal one — although it takes 5 murders and a coup d'etat for Buckingham to begin to see that Richard may have an agenda that doesn't include both of them. He compromises and works harder than he ever has in his charmed life, to help "Buckingham/Gloucester Inc." succeed. He would even accept the murder of the Princes, if only Richard would hand over the cash — but there's no honour among even titled thieves. Buckingham cannot credit that Richard doesn't need him as much as he needs Richard. Dies a disillusioned man.
There are three bishops in Shakespeare's play — all Catholic, one of them a Cardinal. Our Archbishop is head of the Established Church and at the centre of the power brokers' set. To reach his elevated position, he would have started early — chorister at Westminster, scholarship to King's Cambridge, Dean in some fashionable metropolitan diocese and a quick promotion to Durham, then York and now Canterbury, with his own palace at Lambeth, where he can see Big Ben and vote in the House of Lords. As much as he is a divine and an intellectual, he is also a politician, ambitious for the survival and promotion of his Church. Perhaps in search of the food and drink he likes so much, he spends more time with High Society than with the poor of Lambeth. That's not to say that he takes his pastoral duties lightly. The Established Church is notoriously capable of compromising with Power. The Archbishop plays the dangerous game of encouraging Richmond to take up armed revolt, long before others decide that Richard has to be dealt with. To look at, butter wouldn't melt. There's a distinct possibility that this Archbishop might go to Heaven — the Hereafter, not under the arches: he's a celibate.
Another soldier to whom the army is everything. Richard spotted him years back as the most reliable, discreet batman. He never needs to be told to do anything. Totally professional relationship, so that Ratcliffe is blind to anything he would disapprove of. He needn't be all that bright and Richard may seem not to appreciate him until in extremis after the nightmare, Ratcliffe comforts him like a child.
The Governor of the Tower has an unenviable job of caring for political prisoners and treating them like criminals. His old-school background (the Military Police perhaps) is appropriate, for Sir Robert has to obey all orders and agrees to do so, even when it means refusing legitimate requests from the visiting Queens. He is properly disturbed by his responsibilities in holding the Princes in the Tower and when they die, he ponders the outcome for him of a Nurembergstyle trial. He decides to take the gamble and joins Richmond's invasion. If there's a Lady Brackenbury polishing the medals in a grace-and-favour house in Kensington, we never see her — not even at the Victory Ball. Dependable Sir Robert is always on duty.
Difficult when he's always addressed by his hard-won ceremonial title, to remember that the Lord Mayor of London is a very powerful, significant individual. A stock broker maybe, who has risen right to the top, with the political acumen that he shares with the rest of the City Gentlemen. He and his bourgeois wife will just love mingling with royalty at the Victory Ball, where he is an honoured guest. If he gives in to Richard and Buckingham more readily than others, who can blame him when faced with the evidence of the Prime Minister's execution? However scared he may be on his own behalf, he must be assessing how useful a King Richard might be to his business affairs and to the financial stability of his associates in the City.
A Northern Irish working-class protestant recruited by the British Army, where he found he could thrive. James Tyrell is a one-off. He is witty, charming, cocky and flirtatious — too individual to make it to officer-status. But he wouldn't want the responsibility — he likes taking orders not just because he's a loyalist but because he invariably seems to get the orders that no-one else wants to obey and he relishes his accomplishment as an assassin. Not just a thug then? Pride in a job well done — cleanly, quickly and secretly. Who else could Richard get to kill his nephews? Not too bright, despite his affable banter. But he enjoys being close to Richard — amorality and ambition are a lethal combination. They are dependent on each other, by the time Richard confesses his plans in their "bedroom scene". Is Tyrell uneasy at Richard's intimacy? Certainly he is appalled when Richard starts to crack up — hitting an officer and drinking too much. His offer to help Richard escape is not necessarily selfish.