The Queen did not approve of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the Daily Mail can reveal today.
While in favour of civil partnerships, as a woman of deep Christian faith she took a different view on the legislation allowing same-sex couples to ‘marry’.
She expressed her frustration to a friend at the height of the controversy, but admitted she was powerless to intervene, saying: ‘I can only advise and warn.’
The friend said: ‘It was the “marriage” thing that she thought was wrong, because marriage ought to be sacrosanct between a man and a woman.’
It is the first time her anxiety over the controversial issue has become known. The revelation is among the insights in a ground-breaking series starting in the Mail today to mark her 90th birthday next month.
Following extensive interviews with courtiers past and present, friends of the Queen and family members, we can also reveal one of her most senior former aides believes it was a mistake not to lower the Buckingham Palace flag after Princess Diana’s death – and that he is convinced the Queen now shares this view.
The Queen has also changed her attitude towards Diana to one of gratitude.
She turns 90 on April 21, and events to celebrate her remarkable reign – she became Queen aged 25 – are being organised up and down the country, including an official pageant at Windsor Castle.
The Mail’s series – The Unknown Queen – unearths fascinating fresh insights into one of the most written-about women in the world.
It explores what she really thinks of the Duchess of Cambridge’s family, the Middletons, and her surprisingly saucy relationship with Prince Philip.
We reveal how the Queen clung to the hope Charles and Diana could be reconciled, but eventually her ‘deep love’ for her eldest son led her to pave the way for him to marry Camilla. Other revelations include: Her intriguing ‘deal’ with Prince William; How she planned for Princess Anne to be ‘first lady’; Why, in her 40s, the Queen decided to raise her skirts fashionably above the knee; The extraordinary day she was locked out of her own palace; When she went swimming in the sea, and; The time she mentioned the IRA’s new rifle while out riding.
We reveal the episode that most upset the Queen during her ‘annus horribilis’ of 1992, and report how she was deeply hurt by hostile public reaction to the suggestion the taxpayer would pick up the bill to repair fire-ravaged Windsor Castle. But more recently it has been same-sex marriage that has caused her to worry.
The issue split the Conservative Party and, despite a revolt by Tory backbench MPs, it came into force in 2014 after the PM relied on support of Labour and the Lib Dems to get the measure through Parliament.
The Queen’s frustration emerged at the height of the controversy, during a conversation at the home of one of her oldest friends.
The friend said: ‘I said to her, couldn’t she do something about it, and she replied: “I can’t. I can only advise and warn.”’
Intriguingly, she was quoting the great Victorian constitutionalist Walter Bagehot, who set down the accepted limit by which the monarch can influence Parliament’s decisions.
Same-sex marriage was legalised nine years after civil partnerships came into effect in 2005, which gave same-sex couples similar rights and responsibilities as marriage. The Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which is deeply opposed to same-sex marriage on the grounds that ‘marriage’ should be a bond between a man and a woman.
At the time of the debate, David Cameron said: ‘I am a strong believer in marriage. It helps people commit to each other and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married too.’
The opposing view was trenchantly expressed by senior Tory backbencher Sir Roger Gale, who accused Mr Cameron of ‘an “Orwellian” attempt to redefine marriage’.
A survey by pollsters ComRes had found in 2012 that 62 per cent of voters, and 68 per cent of Tory supporters, believed marriage should continue to be defined as a ‘lifelong, exclusive commitment between and man and a woman’.
Famous couples who have made use of the change in the law include Sir Elton John and David Furnish, who married in 2014.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment. A spokesman for the Queen said: ‘We do not comment on private conversations.’