Fresh off the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding last month, the British Royal family is gearing up for another historic set of nuptials in the form of its first ever same-sex wedding.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten, the Queen’s third cousin once removed who came out as gay in September 2016, has announced his engagement to airline cabin services director James Coyle, 56.
The couple are set to wed in a private chapel on Lord Mountbatten’s country estate in Devon later this year – and Lord Mountbatten, 55, told the MailOnline that the engagement marks the end of a “real journey”.
“Being a Mountbatten was never the problem,” the great-great grandson of Queen Victoria says. “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.
He continues: “Coming out” is such a funny phrase but it’s what I suppose I did in a rather roundabout way, emerging to a place I’m happy to be. I have struggled with my sexuality and in some ways I still do; it has been a real journey to reach this point.”
Lord Ivar has three children with his ex-wife Penelope Thompson, who he wed in 1994 before divorcing in 2011. He told her he was bisexual before they married, but the pair later split as the secret of his sexuality began to take a toll on their replationship.
Penelope is supportive of Lord Ivar’s new relationship and even plans to give her ex-husband away at the wedding – a gesture first suggested by their daughters.
“It makes me feel quite emotional. I’m really very touched”, she says.
She goes on: “What I don’t think Ivar realises is how much he has changed as a man since he ‘came out’. James is hugely responsible for that because he’s so much fun.
‘Ivar is so much more relaxed these days. He’s so much kinder… He probably wasn’t even aware that by keeping his sexuality a secret it was really quite tormenting him. Now it’s ‘out’ he’s a completely different person.
“Everybody says they’ve never seen him happier.”
It seems Lord Ivar agrees with that assessment.
“I said to James this morning, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever felt as happy as I do right now’,” he says.
“I’m proud too. Finally I am able to love myself and the reason this marriage is acceptable to all of us, particularly our lovely daughters, is because of the character of James, the nature of the beast — the gorgeous beast.”