Historic Royal Palaces explores LGBT+ stories from the royal bedchamber

30 January 2017

30 January 2017

In 2017, to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts in England and Wales, Historic Royal Palaces reveals the intriguing and little known LGBT+ stories of the royal courts through a season of special programming.

Events at the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Banqueting House will bring together storytelling, performance and expert talks to explore ideas of gender and sexuality from across centuries of royal history.

Kicking off the season is Long Live Queen James, an adult evening promising drama, drinking and discovery in the spectacular setting of the Banqueting House on Whitehall. James I’s reign is remembered today for the gunpowder plot and the implementation of the King James Bible. Less well-known was his popular nickname ‘Queen James’, and his penchant for a succession of male favourites who wielded their influence in the political sphere as well as within the confines of the King’s bedchamber. Encounter new performances devised by cabaret artist Scottee and playwright Mark Ravenhill based on the letters between James I and rakish favourite Duke of Buckingham. Discover the secrets of how the Stuarts used makeup to blur the boundaries between the sexes in participatory workshops, while historians lead talks on early feminism and its links to the Stuart craze for cross dressing, and contemporary ideas of homosexuality and its exploitation as a public propaganda tool. For those with a taste for losing their inhibitions, the Banqueting House’s Undercroft will also return to its former life as James I’s drinking den with a licensed bar.

At the Tower of London, Pride, Power and Politics will offer a unique perspective of almost 700 years of history. This after-hours tour – the first of its kind held at the Tower - explores the history of this iconic castle through the lens of changing attitudes to gender and sexuality, telling the stories of key people linked with it from the 12th century to the present day. The close male friendships of Edward II and his treatment of his favourites resulted in the rebellion of the earls and execution, while the little-known influence of Henry VIII and Queen Victoria on the criminalisation of homosexual acts shaped viewpoints for over 400 years. Bringing us to recent history, the tour will reveal how the alleged homosexuality of 20th century prisoner Roger Casement was used to Parliament to build a case against him, and the real danger posed by queer sexual slander.

Pride at the Palace - a limited series of evening tours of Hampton Court Palace - will delve into 400 years of LGBT+ histories, unearthing the hidden stories of some of the most famous former inhabitants of Henry VIII’s famed pleasure palace. From Georgian courtier John Hervey and his rumoured royal gay lover to the intimate relationship between Queen Anne and her Mistress of the Robes, these specially-created tours offer the chance to discover the power, politics and intrigue of sexuality throughout British history. With Hampton Court having served as the backdrop to centuries of royal assignations that have defied convention, this after-hours tour through the shadowy State Apartments promises to delight, surprise and shock in equal measure.

To complement this special programming, an accompanying Historic Royal Palaces podcast –available for free download from July - will examine the significance of this anniversary year through the longer lens of the original criminalisation of homosexuality under Henry VIII, and analyse the societal and cultural impact this and subsequent legal definitions have had on our collective identity.

For more information and to buy tickets visit www.hrp.org.uk/palacepride

Long Live Queen James

Wednesday 22 February 2017, 7pm -11pm

Banqueting House, Whitehall,

An adult evening ‘late’ event exploring the stories of King James I and his male favourites. Featuring live performance, talks, music and drinking. This event is for age 16yrs+

Tickets: £10


Pride, Power and Politics: a tour of the Tower’s LGBT+ histories

Friday 26 & Saturday 27 May, 18.00, 19.00 & 20.00

Tower of London,

EC3N 4AB A guided tour of the Tower of London by night, exploring ideas of power, leadership and attitudes to gender and sexuality from medieval times to the present day.

Tickets: £15


Pride at the Palace: discover Hampton Court’s LGBT+ stories

Summer 2017 – dates to be announced soon

Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, KT8 9AU

Evening tours telling stories of gender, sexuality and some of the palace’s famous inhabitants.

This event is for age 16yrs+ Tickets: £15


Notes for editors

For further information or images please contact the Historic Royal Palaces press office on 020 3166 6166 or email [email protected]