The invention of Elizabeth II as LGBTQ rights activist


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Image: Joel Rous/Ministry of Defence, Wikimedia Commons

As many grieve the death of 96-year-old Elizabeth II, some have attempted to invent a narrative of the former monarch as an LGBTQ rights activist.

To deny the portrayal of the Queens as ‘a quiet supporter of LGBTQ rights’ is not a personal criticism. (That will come later.) It is mere recognition of her role and how assiduously she obeyed its stricture on neutrality.

Even some otherwise sensible queer media platforms have run with the nonsense. I understand why. The death of the queen is the biggest story in the world. Judging by television, the only story. How then to harvest clicks from the story of a woman who never once expressed a personal opinion on queer matters?

It seems the answer was to invent something.

Because Queen Elizabeth never once publicly revealed her personal opinion on any substantive issue.

Strictly neutral

As the royal family state on their own website, the sovereign “has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.”

The British Monarchist’s League explains why kings and queens obey the strictures on neutrality.

“Monarchs themselves are often driven by a more pragmatic sense of self-preservation, in which avoiding political controversy can be seen as an important way to retain public legitimacy and popularity.”

Therefore, public statements by the Queen are either written by, or in accordance with the priorities of the government of the day.

The words spoken when a king or queen opens parliament, are not their words. They operate as mere mouthpieces for the Prime Minister of the day.

Likewise, the Queen’s endorsement of a new much-heralded Commonwealth of Nations charter in 2013. The action demonstrated neither approval nor disapproval. She merely performed her duty, by the book.

And as activist Peter Tatchell pointed out, the Charter made only oblique reference to LGBTQ rights.

“Astonishingly, since she became Queen in 1952, the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ have never publicly passed her lips. There is no record of her ever speaking them.

“Even when she announced government plans for gay law reform in her Queen’s Speeches, she did not use the words lesbian or gay. Apparently, mentioning LGBT people is beneath the dignity of the monarch.”

And now the criticism

Sadly, unlike other members of her family, notably Princess Diana and her sons, the new Prince of Wales and brother Prince Harry along with his wife Meghan Markle, the Queen always resisted any urge to speak out on issues when her voice might have made a huge difference to the lives of some of her more marginalised subjects.

Countless other people in this world have ignored employment contracts to speak out on matters of importance. But the Queen never once expressed a personal opinion on racism, LGBTQ rights, poverty, climate change, war, apartheid, the first Fiji coup or any other subject when her opinion might have effected positive change.

What was going to happen?

No one was going to sack her.

True, it would be an option best used sparingly because every time she spoke would make the tactic less effective.

But this queen missed a huge opportunity to make positive change in her various realms and for her most marginalised subjects.

Take away the pomp and ceremony and you’re left with a charming meeter-and-greeter, a human rubber stamp and a glamorous town crier.

What is on the record?

To truly understand the Queen’s record, check out what she actually did.

And by that, I don’t mean the entertaining guesses of ‘royal experts”. You might as well read the astrology column!

The veracity of their inside scoops was exposed when some of the most authoritative royal experts recorded videos — for a fee — giving their opinions of Oprah’s interview with the Sussexes — days before seeing it.

What do we know?

For a start, none of the royal family attended the same-sex wedding of the Queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten.

Also, that a gay footman resigned his position in 2018 after embarrassing demotions attributed to publicity over his sexuality.

Finally, check out the royal website.

All sorts of fascinating facts and figures. Lots of mentions of heterosexual marriages. But try finding any reference to the numerous lesbian, gay or bisexual monarchs this mob descended from.

William Rufus,  Edward II, James I, William III, and Anne among others. Not a squeak!

Once the current affection passes, how will history remember this sovereign?

I’d guess as an unremarkable constitutional monarch who diligently performed her mandated duties by the book. And therefore, never once did anything substantive or memorable of her own volition.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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1 Comment

  1. Jeanie
    11 September 2022
    Reply

    A bit harsh I think.
    She simply did not have the platform to express ANY personal view!!

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