Melanie McDonagh

Is anyone surprised that the Queen didn’t approve of gay marriage?

Is anyone surprised that the Queen didn't approve of gay marriage?
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Of all the frankly riveting stuff in the Daily Mail’s serial of what it calls 'The Unknown Queen' -- nicely timed for the Queen’s 90th birthday -- is there anything less surprising than the revelation she was/is opposed to gay marriage? Is the head of the Church of England a Christian? Well, it seems so.

‘There is,' say Richard Kay (a friend of the late Princess Diana) and Geoffrey Levy, 'one area of social policy where Her Majesty holds more traditional views…same sex marriage.' Talking about the issue in the home of a close friend around the time the legislation was being passed by Parliament, the Queen is said to have expressed her frustration and unease. 'It was the "marriage” thing she thought was wrong,' says the friend, 'because marriage ought to be sacrosanct between a man and a woman. I said to her couldn’t she do something about it and she replied: "I can’t. I can only advise and warn."'

By which I think we must assume that she did her constitutional duty by the Prime Minister. Speaking as one Anglican to another, she may have reminded him of the character of marriage as an institution -- natural and Christian -- during one of their weekly get togethers. Of course David Cameron probably treated her advice exactly as you’d expect and ignored her, just as he did with his mother. I do not know if she went on to remind the Prime Minister about the inherent complementarity of the sexes in marriage as well as in its natural orientation towards children. I suppose as a sensible woman she may well have done.

There's a curious and unpleasant prejudice out there surrounding the idea of gay marriage. In effect, it is this: if you are happy to acknowledge gay relationships then you must therefore be bent on subverting matrimony as most people understood it until about three years ago. One senior journalist declared, after I insisted during the gay marriage debate that HM would almost certainly disapprove: 'The Queen loves gay people!' Yes, of course she does. But she seemingly didn’t see that it followed that the oldest institution in the world should be radically changed in order to indicate social approval of gay coupledom. Which goes to show she’s a better social conservative than David Cameron. Not that that's difficult really.