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Could the new Duchess be a sign of royal diversity to come… 

Goodness only knows how many trees have been felled to cope with the reams of commentary which have been penned over the nuptials of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex – not to mention the billions of electrons which must have been inconvenienced by the blanket online coverage, so now is not the time to add to the mountain of royal tittle tattle.

And yet it is notable that a divorced biracial American has been welcomed on to the very top table of royalty. Lest we forget, it was only three generations ago (a blink of an eye in the context of royal history) that the King was forced to abdicate over his love for a caucasian divorced American, while our very own Queen was instructed by her Government to forbid her own sister, Princess Margaret, from marrying Peter Townsend because he, shock horror!, had been married before. And if you think that’s all a long time ago, we can all agree that the marriage of Prince Charles with Lady Diana Spencer was, as far as he was concerned at least, not exactly a love match made in heaven.

Even if you’re a republican (in the British sense), royalty does matter. The Duchess of Sussex’s background is relevant, as is how she has been accepted by the royal family and the British people. This begs the question…what if a senior royal not only came out as gay, but wanted to marry their same sex partner?

There are a few practical difficulties; it’s unlikely that any wedding would be able to take place in church, and given the royal obsession with continuation of their bloodline, there are clearly questions to be asked as to whether a child born of surrogacy, sperm or egg donation, or even adoption could take their place in the line to the throne. But practicalities aside, what do the British people think?

In an entirely unscientific and slightly tipsy piece of market research, I spoke to thirty random people in my local pub on Saturday night. Anyone identifying as LGBT+ was disqualified.

I asked one simple question: “Would you have any objection to a gay senior royal having a same sex marriage?” Twenty-nine people answered that they would have no objection, one stated that she would have to think about it, and nobody at all seemed to have a problem with it.

The opinions of thirty people in a north London pub do not a plebiscite make, but I still believe that we have something to celebrate. When post-referendum Britain is often portrayed as becoming less tolerant of minorities, and when those with the most objectionable views can find a mouthpiece on social media to spread their vitriol, it seems to me that mainstream opinion is moving with the times and that, one day, my hypothetical question may become – well – not so hypothetical at all.


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Rob Harkavy

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