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21/06/2018 05:02 SAST | Updated 21/06/2018 05:02 SAST

Queen Elizabeth's Cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, Will Be The First British Royal In A Same-Sex Wedding

It's been a pretty fantastic season for the U.K. royal family.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Edward, Sophie, Lord Ivar Mountbatten and his former wife, Penny, in 1995.
Tim Graham / Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Edward, Sophie, Lord Ivar Mountbatten and his former wife, Penny, in 1995.

It turns out that royal wedding season is just getting started.

And while the next marriage ceremony won't be broadcast internationally on live TV, have Oprah on the guest list or involve an iconic 4.9m-long veil, it's still destined to make headlines: it will be the British royal family's first same-sex wedding.

Queen Elizabeth's cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, will marry his partner, James Coyle, this summer on his country estate in Devon, U.K., according to the Daily Mail. The 55-year-old came out as gay two years ago, and his ex-wife and mother of his three children, Lady Penny Mountbatten, will give him away at the ceremony, the Daily Mail reported.

"I loved Penny when we were married, as I still do very much, and I loved our family unit," Mountbatten said. "I never thought this would happen. It's brilliant, but I never thought I'd marry a man."

Mountbatten is the Queen's third cousin once removed, according to Town and Country magazine. Prince Edward — the Queen's youngest son — is godparent to Mountbatten's children, he told the Daily Mail.

"Sophie [Edward's wife] and Edward know of our plans and are really excited for us," Mountbatten said. "Sadly, they can't come to the wedding. Their diaries are arranged months in advance and they're not around, but they adore James. Everyone adores him."

It's unclear if any members of the British royal family will attend the wedding, Town and Country reported. The Queen has yet to comment, but has been supportive of LGBTQ+ rights in the U.K. in the past. In her 2017 speech to Parliament, the Queen vowed to make "further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation".

And rumour has it that when she signed the Royal Assent for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, she said: "Well, who'd have thought 62 years ago when I came to the throne, I'd be signing something like this? Isn't it wonderful?"

Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty Images
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II attend a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, in Widnes, England.

This latest announcement tops off a pretty fantastic season for the U.K. royals.

In May, Prince Harry broke from custom to wed American actress Meghan Markle, who is also previously divorced and biracial. Their modern ceremony — viewed by 29-million people around the world — included a stirring sermon by Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, who is not only the first black leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States, but the first American to preach at a British royal wedding.

The Queen has welcomed Markle into the royal family, even displaying a photo of her and Harry in her sitting room. And last week, Markle and Her Majesty were photographed laughing and smiling together as the two stepped out for their first official joint engagement.

Mountbatten's wedding will mark the first same-sex wedding in the extended royal family, according to the Daily Mail. The timing of their announcement is particularly poignant, given that June is Pride Month around the world.

The ceremony itself will be private, just for Mountbattens' daughters, their close family and friends. But about 120 guests will arrive afterwards for a party, Mountbatten's partner James Coyle (56) told the Daily Mail.

"We'll have lovely food and really good music, but there won't be two men in tuxedos on a cake, white doves or anything twee or contrived like that," Coyle said.

It was Mountbatten who insisted on the wedding, according to the Daily Mail.

"I really wanted to do it for James," he said. "He hasn't been married ... James hasn't had the stable life I have ... I want to be able to give you that."

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