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Queen's Gay Footman Quits After Demotion for 'Courting Publicity'

Ollie Roberts
Ollie Roberts (right)

Ollie Roberts, the first openly gay footman, resigned after a royal pushback to his media attention.


Ollie Roberts has resigned as footman to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II -- the first openly gay man to hold such a position.

The 21-year-old Wales native and veteran of the Royal Air Force reportedly left because he felt "let down" by Buckingham Palace, which demoted Roberts for "courting publicity," an anonymous source told The Sun, a British tabloid.

"Ollie was informed he had been overdoing the press stuff and they knew he was behind articles and gossip pieces," the source told The Sun. "They told him his profile was becoming too high and he wasn't there to draw attention to himself."

"He thought about it for a couple of days then decided he should quit," the insider added. "He feels badly let down when he was proud to be gay in such a good job."

Roberts was first seen as an attendant to the queen during her 92nd birthday celebration in June earlier this year -- a debut that was celebrated by LGBTQ media and social media. He also reportedly posted images that suggested his position to his Instagram profile, which has since been deleted.

His high-profile duties as footman included accompanying the queen on formal occasions and riding with her in carriages, in addition to domestic responsibilities like walking her dogs and collecting her mail.

Peter Tatchell, a prominent LGBTQ rights activist, told The Daily Beast that the controversy is indicative of a homophobic work culture.

"I can see no example of him giving quotes to the media, which might justify the claim that he was 'courting publicity,'" he said. "It looks more likely that the Palace is embarrassed for it to be known that it has gay staff, and it is consistent with decades of homophobia by the queen's inner circle."

Buckingham Palace officials have not responded to the resignation.

The Sun reports that the Queen Mother referred to a group of her gay servants as a "knitting brigade" and once said, "When you two old queens have stopped gossiping, will one of you fetch this queen a gin and tonic!"

Members of the royal family have been supportive of LGBTQ rights in recent years. Prince William praised the courage of queer youth in a 2016 interview with Attitude, in which he became the first royal to appear on the cover of a gay magazine. In September, Lord Ivar Mountbatten became the family's first member to enter into a same-sex marriage.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.