This month Steve talks about Kings and Queens and red-hot pokers where the sun doesn’t shine...
Of the 41 kings and queens since William The Conqueror, it's reckoned that seven were likely to have been lesbian, gay or bisexual.
They didn't all lead happy and contented lives. For starters there was Edward the Second, the most famous gay king. Everyone knows how he died; murdered at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, by being held down and having a red-hot poker inserted where the sun doesn't shine. His screams could be heard for miles around, and historians believe this cruel torture was probably devised as punishment for his presumed sexual shenanigans with men.
A few hundred years later, by the time George VI was on the throne, things had changed. King George's wife, the late Queen Mother, enjoyed friendships with some of the most flamboyant gay men of her day, including Noel Coward, who was rumoured to have had an affair with her own brother-in-law, Prince George, the Duke of Kent. On one occasion during cocktail hour at Clarence House, the Queen (as she then was) was impatiently waiting for her gin and Dubonnet and called down to the servants' quarters: “I don't know about any of you queens down there, but this Queen up here wants a drink.”
Fast forward to 2019, when earlier this summer Prince William announced, on a visit to an LGBT homeless centre in London, that he wouldn't care if his children were gay. He did, however, say he'd be worried about the pressures they would face from society. He also admitted that he'd only started thinking about the issue since becoming a father, and that he wished we lived in a world where it wouldn't matter.
Sadly, being LGBT still does matter, especially in the 37 Commonwealth countries where it's still illegal to be gay. But knowing that our future king - and de facto head of the Commonwealth - holds such pro-equality views provides hope that attitudes and actions will continue to change.
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