The recent film Red, White and Royal Blue created a big splash in the LGBTQI+ pool, with many falling in love with not just the story, but lead characters Alex and British Prince Henry portrayed by Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine. This has led some people to ask if there are any real-life gay royals out there.
The short answer is: yes, there are and have been many queer royals throughout world history. What’s more, we don’t have to cast our eyes that far back to find them. Sadly, several of them were forced to live a double life and endured stigma for being gay. Here are six historical and contemporary queer royal figures.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil
Prince Manvendra is an Indian royal, considered to be the very first prince to ever come out as gay. He came out in 2006 and was met with a great deal of backlash from Indian society, even receiving death threats. In 2013, Manvendra married an American man. He started the Lakshya Trust which works with the LGBTQI+ community in India. He is also active in getting India’s laws against queer people removed. In 2018, Manvendra opened up his palace grounds to house vulnerable LGBTQI+ people who were disowned by their families after coming out
Lord Ivar Mountbatten
Ivar Mountbatten (right) with husband James Coyle on their wedding day in 2018 (Photo: Ivar Mountbatten / Instagram)
Mountbatten is part of the extended British royal family and is often referred to as a cousin to the late Queen Elizabeth II. Mountbatten came out as gay in 2017, marrying his husband James Coyle a year later. Mountbatten was given away by his supportive ex-wife, Lady Penny Mountbatten, who walked him down the aisle at his same-sex wedding. He is the first member of the British royal family to come out as gay.
King Mwanga II
King Mwanga II of the Ugandan kingdom of Buganda, who reigned from 1884 to 1889, had several wives but is said to have been gay or bisexual. He faced intense pressure and conflict during a tumultuous period of Bugandan history, marked by European colonisation and the introduction of Christianity. Mwanga II’s relationships with his male pages have been a subject of historical interpretation, with some suggesting they had a significant homosexual aspect.
Sheridan Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 5th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
Photo: Allan Warren / Wikipedia
Although he was gay, Lord Dufferin married his fourth cousin Lindy Guinness in 1964 at Westminster Abbey, a ceremony attended by 1,800 guests, including Princess Margaret. He was a patron of the arts and was known for his lavish parties. He died in 1988 of an AIDS related illness at the age of 49. Because he and his wife never had children, his title became extinct upon his death.
King Umberto II of Italy
(Photo: Tanner (Capt), War Office official photographer / Wikipedia)
Mussolini kept a dossier on King Umberto and his male lovers, it is said. King Umberto was the last King of Italy and ruled for just 34 days after the fall of Mussolini. He was publicly outed by Fascist newspapers, which in part led to Italians voting in a 1946 referendum to completely abolish the monarchy. He left Italy and he and other male members of the royal House of Savoy were barred from ever returning. He died in Geneva at the age of 78.
Prince Egon von Furstenberg
The prince was an openly bisexual socialite, banker, fashion and interior designer who was part of the former German royal family. He married fashion designer Dianne von Furstenberg, and after they divorced in 1973, he married again, this time to Lynn Marshall. He had several male lovers between his marriages. He died at the age of 57 in 2004 due to liver cancer that had been caused by a previous Hepatitis C infection.