Royal wedding fever is gaining momentum as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s May 19 ceremony approaches. There are now wax figures of the couple at Madame Tussauds and even Lego sets commemorating the historic nuptials.
But would a royal same-sex wedding be met with the same fanfare?
When the wedding was announced, many cheered at the idea of Markle, who is biracial, joining the upper echelons of Britain’s royal family. But some disparaging reactions revealed that racism and classism persist in the U.K.—so much so that Harry had to release a statement condemning social media “trolls” and racist and sexist coverage of their relationship.
Would a same-sex royal ceremony engender similar attacks? Nearly 700 years ago King Edward II was allegedly murdered for being gay, with reports of a red-hot poker being shoved up his backside.
Thankfully, much has changed in the intervening centuries: According to a YouGov poll, the majority of Brits (58%) under 49 found the idea of a same-sex royal wedding “acceptable.” (Of course, 52% said they were indifferent to Harry’s engagement in the first place.)
In all, just a quarter of those surveyed said they would be “very or slightly” concerned if a member of the Royal Family were to marry somebody of the same sex. That’s good news for one royal, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth’s third cousin once removed. In 2016, Mountbatten became the first British royal to come out.
— Sr Iona Dubble-Wyde (@Sisteridw) September 17, 2016
“Being a Mountbatten was never the problem,” he told The Daily Mail of his coming out. “It was the generation into which I was born. When I was growing up, it was known as ’the love that dare not speak its name,’ but what’s amazing now is how far we have all come in terms of acceptance.”
It appears that acceptance is being championed from the top: In an address to Parliament last year, Queen Elizabeth pledged to protect the LGBT community from discrimination, promising “My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”
And an August 2017 photograph of Prince George riding a helicopter led some to playfully call William and Kate’s firstborn a “gay icon” in the making.
Prince George is already a bigger gay icon to me than Boy George. pic.twitter.com/i1FM0jh4Vv
— Nathan Beard (@nathansbeard) July 21, 2017
Anglican minister Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth even asked Christians to pray that the then-4-year-old royal turned out gay to help advance LGBT rights in the Church.
If George or another heir did come out, there are efforts underway to ensure the royal line would continue: In 2013, Labor MP Paul Flynn rallied for an amendment to allow royals in same-sex relationships to marry and have their partners become consorts. (As the head of the Church of England, the king faces different rules than mere commoners.) But the measure, which would allow their children to stay in the line of succession even if they were conceived by surrogacy, has not passed yet.
With the top contenders to the throne demonstrably heterosexual, we might have to wait a while before there’s an out king or queen in Buckingham Palace. Until then, the LGBT community can count on Prince Harry as an ally: while serving in the Royal Army, he confronted a group of soldiers who were harassing a gay troop mate.
And in 2016, he took an HIV test live on Facebook in an effort to end stigma surrounding those with the virus.
But if you’re looking for a gay royal to gush over right now, there’s always Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, India’s first openly gay prince. He’s active in counseling, legal assistance, and HIV prevention among India’s LGBT community. And he’s single.