Benedict Cumberbatch
Historian has linked Benedict Cumberbatch to Richard III Neil Hall/Reuters

Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch has been revealed as Richard III's late second cousin 16 times removed.

He will pay tribute to his distant relative by reading a poem today (26 March) at his reburial at Leicester Cathedral.

Historian and professor Kevin Schurer from the University of Leicester, who was part of the team that unearthed the king's remains in a city car park in 2012, established the actor's kinship via Richard's mother Cecily Neville – a daughter of one of the wealthiest families in medieval times.

"In terms of number of generations, the shortest is via Richard's mother Cecily Neville's grandmother Joan Beaufort," Schurer told The Guardian. "He also has more indirect links to both Queen Elizabeth II and Lady Jane Grey through other ancestors in his tree."

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby presided over the service which was attended by Sophie, Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester representing the royal family.

Cumberbatch was due to read a poem entitled Richard, by Britain's Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, during the history-making commemoration service.

Thousands lined the streets earlier this week in Leicester to catch a glimpse of the last Plantagenet king's coffin.

He died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Henry Tudor, who later became Henry VII from House of Lancaster, reclaimed the throne from Richard's dynastic House of York. It was the final battle of the so-called Wars of Roses between the two factions.