LGBTQ Royals You Didn’t Know About

Abigail Kinsey, Staff Writer

The Dutch Monarchy made the news about announcing that royals can have may have and marry same sex partners without revoking the right’s to their crown. Though the Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001, LGBTQ people have been living the way they want long before it became official. Though it’s hard to label people from the past with modern definitions, there are many leaders from long ago who transcended gender and sexual norms. Some were accepted by their people, and some were met with outrage. No matter the reaction, these are a few queer royals you may not have known about.

Queen Anne of Great Britain was widely known for her close relationship with Sarah Churchhill. Sarah had the queen’s ear when it came to politics, economic, or social matters. They had pet names for each other, such as Mrs Morley for Anne and Mrs Freeman for Sarah. The two’s relationship did fizzle out, however, as Sarah was eager to gain political power which Anne would not gift her. Sarah was then replaced by her cousin Abigail, who took to the queen’s side.

Princess Isabella of Bourbon-Parma was in an unhappy marriage with Archduke Joseph of Austria. She was supposedly in love with her sister-in-law instead, with the two sharing over 200 letters of endearment. In one of the letters, Isabella writes ‘I am told that the day begins with God. I, however, begin the day by thinking of the object of my love, for I think of her incessantly.’ Isabella spent her time with the Archduchess as she avoided her husband. 

Emperor Ai of Han of the Han dynasty was made emperor at 20. He was widely known to have been romantically involved with one of his ministers, Dong Xian. In the Book of Han, the two’s relationship is referred to as ‘the passion of the cut sleeve.’ The book tells the story of how the two had fallen asleep together on a mat, and upon waking up, the emperor cut off part of his sleeve to ensure his lover did not wake up. This phrase is still used as a chinese euphemism for male homosexuality.

Emperor Hadrian of Rome was in an arranged marriage in which he was not happy with. The marriage bore no children, and it remained loveless. At this time, it wasn’t unusual for Romans in positions of high power to have male partners in addition to their wives, but Hadrian was devoted to his male lover, Antinous. After Antinous suddenly drowned in the Nile River in 130 A.D., Hadrian was so horribly heartbroken that he arranged for monuments of Antinous placed everywhere. In addition, when a city in Egypt was founded close to where Antinous had drowned, Hadrian named the city Antinopolis.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil received no acceptance from his parents. They demanded he have shock therapy to be cured. They took him to all sorts of doctors and spiritual guides, but they all said the same thing: ‘You can spend all the money you want on this, but nothing will change.’ He was disowned by his parents, and they threatened to sue anyone who referred to him as their son. He did not let that stop him, as he now runs a charity, the Lakshya Trust, which works with the LGBTQ community.