Spokespeople for the U.K.’s royal family are rebutting claims that Queen Elizabeth II opposed her nation’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
London’s Daily Mail makes the claim in an article published today to initiate a series marking the long-reigning monarch’s 90th birthday, which will occur April 21.
When the queen gave her blessing to a marriage equality law for England and Wales, a formality after it was passed by Parliament in 2013, she did so reluctantly, a friend told the Mail. “It was the ‘marriage’ thing that she thought was wrong, because marriage ought to be sacrosanct between a man and a woman,” said the friend, not identified by name. The source said the queen was comfortable with civil partnerships, which the U.K. had offered same-sex couples since 2005.
Rubbish, reports The Daily Beast, citing “senior sources at Buckingham Palace.” “It seems unlikely that one of her friends would pass on her thoughts to the Mail,” one of them told the Beast. The queen stays neutral in political matters, a requirement under the U.K.’s system of constitutional monarchy, in which Parliament and not the monarch has the final word on legislation, although the monarch is called upon to give “royal assent.”
The source further called the Mail’s story “spurious and unsubstantiated.” One palace staffer emailed the Beast a story in which gay actor-comedian Stephen Fry quoted the queen speaking favorably about marriage equality. “Although Fry says the story is apocryphal, the fact that palace staffers were ready to email the story to an ink-stained wretch is a pretty clear sign that they consider the Mail’s report to be inaccurate, and a mischaracterization of the queen’s views,” the Beast notes.
While the 2013 bill affected only England and Wales, Scotland followed suit by legalizing same-sex marriage in 2014. Northern Ireland remains the only portion of the U.K. without marriage equality.
Queen Elizabeth also indicated support for LGBT rights with her support of a 2013 Commonwealth Charter that declared countries in the British Commonwealth “implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief, or other grounds,” with the “other grounds” referring to sexuality, the Beast reports. The commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 countries, including the U.K. and many of its former colonies, that work together on various matters.