Lord Ivar Mountbatten, one of the Queen's cousins, has come out as gay – the first member of the royal family to do so. The 53-year-old, who is good friends with Prince Edward and godfather to his daughter Lady Louise, said that he was relieved to finally be open about his sexuality as he spoke of his happiness with new partner James Coyle.
He confirmed that his family had been incredibly supportive of his announcement, and said ex-wife Penny Thompson and their three daughters have welcomed James – an airline cabin services director, whom he met while skiing in Verbier last March - into their lives.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten was married to wife Penny from 1994 until 2011
While many might assume that being a member of the royal circle would present a challenge, Lord Ivar insisted that was never the issue.
"Being a Mountbatten was never the problem, it was the generation into which I was born," he confided to the Daily Mail. "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."
He continued: "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. I have struggled with my sexuality and in some ways I still do; it has been a real journey to reach this point.
The couple have three daughters together
"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 buried it. 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 twenties. I'm just so pleased now to have found someone who I am happy to call my partner."
Lord Ivar – who is the great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, and a third cousin, once removed, of Elizabeth - candidly admitted that while he is "a lot happier now" he is "still not 100 per cent comfortable with being gay".
"In an ideal world, I know the girls would like their mother and father still to be together, but they love their 21st-century family that we have built too," he added. "Their father has a boyfriend. It's that complicated and that simple, but finding James means I will not have to lie to anyone or grow old on my own."