Cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, great-nephew of Earl Mountbatten of Burma and great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, Lord Ivar Mountbatten has officially become the first member of the extended British royal family to come out as being homosexual.
The 53-year-old was married to Penny Thompson for 17 years, with whom he had three children with. They divorced in 2011. Thompson was aware of his sexuality when they married in 1994. “She was understanding and I will always be grateful to her,” Lord Mountbatten said about his ex-wife to the UK’s Mail on Sunday. “We had a lot of fun, we have three fabulous daughters and I don’t regret any stage of my life.”
Ella Louise Georgina Mountbatten eldest daughter of Lord Ivar Mountbatten and Penny Thompson
Despite the world slowly acknowledging and accepting the LGBTQ community, Mountbatten had trouble admitting his sexuality to the public. He only decided to come out of his shell after he met his current partner, an airline cabin services director, James Coyle on a skiing holiday in Verbier, Switzerland. Coyle had been open about his sexuality since 2003, and did not want to continue a relationship in secret. “If I was going to be with him, it had to be in the open with friends and family,” Coyle told the Mail. “I wanted us to be honest, not to hide anything, not to be anything else.”
Although Mountbatten did not face difficulty or rejection coming out to his family, who “could not be more supportive”, he admits that he still has his own struggle even though he had come all this way.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten and Lady Penelope
“’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,” he said. “I have struggled with my sexuality and in some ways I still do; it has been a real journey to reach this point. I am a lot happier now, though I am still not 100 percent comfortable with being gay.” “Simply talking about it in public is a huge step for me. Up to this point, I have had a heterosexual lifestyle, so living with a man is really new. One step at a time.”
Mountbatten also admitted that he had difficulties acknowledging and accepting his sexuality in the beginning.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten with his partner James Coyle
“Being a Mountbatten was never the problem, it was the generation into which I was born,” Lord Mountbatten said. “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.”
“I was driven into the closet by not wanting to come to terms with who I was and facing friends and family in the early years. I even had girlfriends as I tried to work out what I wanted to be. It was not an easy time in my teens or 20s. I’m just so pleased now to have found someone who I am happy to call my partner. My work involves a lot of travel. For the first time I have had someone to come home to.”
You can read the rest of his interview with the Daily Mail right here.