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Tower of London announces ‘Queer Lives’ theatrical tour of LGBT+ history at the famous fortress

Tours: 18, 19, 22 (BSL), 23 and 24 February 2023.

This February, as the UK celebrates LGBT+ History Month, the Tower of London will open its doors after-hours for Queer Lives, a theatrical tour that explores the LGBTQ+ people who lived, loved and died at the historic landmark.

Queer Lives is a journey through 700 years of history where visitors will encounter fascinating characters from the 14th century to the present day, celebrate stories of defiance and reflect on the LGBTQ+ stories linked to the famous fortress throughout the years.

Hosted by an extravagant ‘raven’ tour guide – inspired by the Tower of London’s legendary guardians – Queer Lives is based on extensive research by Historic Royal Palaces curator Matthew Storey.

Offering a unique view inside the Tower of London, Queer Lives will take in ancient turrets, military battlements and a medieval royal bedchamber as visitors encounter a host of fascinating characters from the Tower’s rich history.

Queer Lives will uncover how King Edward II’s relationships with young men at court sparked rebellion and bloodshed.

The King and his favourite, his closest political and emotional ally, Piers Gaveston, are often thought to have been lovers. Edward never had a mistress and even at his wedding banquet the King is said to have given more attention to Gaveston than to his new Queen.

Visitors will also learn about how King James I earned the nickname ‘Queen James’, after his private life was shadowed with rumours concerning his male favourites and possible lovers, notably Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.

Queer Lives returns to the Tower of London for 5 nights only, following a popular run in early 2020. The cast is led by singer and actress Mzz Kimberley – aka Kim Tatum – who will become the first trans woman to lead a theatrical performance at the Tower of London.

The unique tour is directed by Tom Latter and written by the award-winning Chris Bush (Sheffield Theatre Associate Director), making this a theatrical event not to miss for gays, theys and allies alike.

Matthew Storey, Curator, Historic Royal Palaces: ‘We are incredibly excited to welcome back Queer Lives at the Tower, offering an opportunity for people to explore the Tower of London in a moving, but exciting, way. This theatrical experience unpicks the pathos and humour of LGBTQ+ figures associated with this famous fortress, shining a fresh light on both familiar and forgotten voices.’

Kim Tatum – aka Mzz Kimberley – actress: ‘Being the first trans woman to lead a show in such a historical building is a thrill. It’s exciting that our history and truth is being told when so much of LGBT history has been forgotten. People want to hear the truth and Queer Lives will help LGBT people to feel they are part of important history’.

Notes to Editors

For further information and images please contact Jon Hornbuckle in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office via [email protected] or telephone 020 3166 6166.

Tickets: Adult £25 / Concessions £20 / Historic Royal Palaces and Equity Members £22.50.

Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Queer Lives tours last approximately 50 minutes and start at 17:30, 18:30 and 20:00 on 18, 19, 22, 23 and 24 February 2023.

British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted tours will run on 22 February 2023.

Queer Lives does not include daytime admission to the Tower of London and will not include access to the Crown Jewels.

Historic Royal Palaces is a team of people who love and look after six of the most wonderful palaces in the world. We create space for spirits to stir and be stirred. We want everyone to feel welcome and accepted. We tell stories about the monarchs you know and the lives you don’t. We let people explore and we set minds racing. We are a charity and your support gives the palaces a future, for everyone.

Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk

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