King Charles III and the new Prince of Wales: What the royals have said about LGBTQ+ rights

Prince William and King Charles

After the death of the Queen, the British royal family enters a new era with the upcoming coronation of King Charles. But will the change make it any more vocal about LGBTQ+ rights?

Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September, with King Charles III acceding the throne.

Elizabeth’s 70-year reign saw transformative changes in the UK, including major laws that advanced LGBTQ+ rights including the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2014.

However, the late Queen avoided commenting publicly on LGBTQ+ rights. She kept herself out of social and political issues, and it seems that LGBTQ+ rights, even in the 21st century, were considered just that.

King Charles has never publicly commented on LGBTQ+ rights

King Charles III has largely followed in Queen Elizabeth’s footsteps, and there is no record of him speaking on LGBTQ+ rights.

Sir Elton John has previously vouched for Charles, expressing his confidence that he, along with Prince Harry, would use their influence to decriminalise homosexuality in all Commonwealth states.

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Same-sex relations remain illegal in many countries once colonised by Britain – many of which now form the Commonwealth.

“Things don’t happen over night. You can’t change a culture and people’s way of thinking over night. But you can certainly step in the water and have a good go. If you don’t step in the water, nothing’s ever going to get done,” Elton said in 2018, Gay Times reported.

“I think Prince Charles, when he is made Head of the Commonwealth, will do those kind of things.”

Prince William said he would be “absolutely fine” if his children came out as gay

That remains to be seen. But what’s certain is that the younger generation of royals have been much more vocal in their support of LGBTQ+ rights than King Charles.

Prince William, the new Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, said in 2019 he would be “absolutely fine” if his children were to come out as gay or lesbian. 

During a visit to the London base of LGBTQ+ charity akt (the Albert Kennedy Trust), William was asked by a young man how he would react to his child coming out.

He replied: “I think you don’t really start thinking about that until you are a parent, and I think – obviously, absolutely fine by me,” reported the Guardian. 

William said he has spoken about the subject with his wife, Catherine, now Princess of Wales, and he raised concerns about the pressure people face when coming out.

He added: “I fully support whatever decision they make, but it does worry me from a parent point of view how many barriers, hateful words, persecution and discrimination that might come.” 

He was applauded by members of the community, including Will Young, for his words.

It wasn’t the first time William had supported the community. In 2016 he invited LGBTQ+ people to Kensington Palace to learn more about bullying of the community, and the year before he led a diversity anti-bullying workshop. 

That same year he made history by appearing on the front cover of Attitude magazine, becoming the first member of the royal family to pose for an LGBTQ+ publication. 

William, a noted football fan, was also quick to send words of support to Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels after he came out as gay.

He took to Twitter to say he hoped Daniels’ decision to “speak openly gives others the confidence to do the same”. 

Elsewhere on social media, William and Kate in June used their Instagram to mark Pride month and to highlight mental health charity Shout and the work it does to support LGBTQ+ people. 

Notably, William and Catherine saw backlash this year as they embarked on a poorly-received tour of the Caribbean, renewing focus on calls for the royals to apologise for its colonial past, and for Caribbean nations that still have the British monarch as head of state to become republics.

Prince Harry and Princess Diana supported HIV initiatives

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan, have also showed support for the LGBTQ+ community, notable becoming the first members of the royal family to celebrate Pride month publicly.

In 2016, Prince Harry was tested for HIV in a live broadcast, and afterwards testing numbers skyrocketed.

Prince Harry described his mother’s work as “unfinished business”, and added: “I feel obligated to try and continue that as much as possible. I can never fill her shoes, especially in this particular space, what she did, what she stood for and how vocal she was on this issue.”

During the height of AIDS crisis Princess Diana made many visits to Mildmay – a charitable HIV hospital in East London – and she famously shook hands with a patient in a move that helped lessen stigma around the virus.

At the time Diana declared : “HIV does not make people dangerous to know.

“So you can shake their hand and give them a hug, heaven knows they need it.”

The kindness and generosity of the Princess of Wales is still remembered today and in 2015 Prince Harry donned a red AIDS ribbon while he visited Mildmay.

“When my mother held the hand of a man dying of AIDS,” the prince said, “no one would have imagined that just over a quarter of a century later treatment would exist that could see HIV-positive people live full, healthy, loving lives.”