‘Queer’ stories in the palace: from Pablo de Grecia, grandfather of Felipe VI, to the infant Luis Fernando, cousin of Alfonso XIII | People | The USA Print

answered prayers, the scandalous novel in code that Truman Capote never got to finish, not only splashed the New York high society of the seventies, but also the European royalty. In May 1976, one year after publishing in the magazine esquire two chapters in which he exposed the intimacies of his rich and famous friends, the author of Cold-blooded and Breakfast with diamonds wakefulness perfect monsters, a third advance of the work. “Capote attacks again. More about the most commented book of the year”, headlined the magazine in front page. In this excerpt, the American writer dared to tell an open secret from Gotha with real names and surnames: the youthful relationship between Prince Paul of Greece, father of Queen Sofía and grandfather of Felipe VI, with Denham Denny Fouts, an American gigolo whom Christopher Isherwood hailed as the “world’s most expensive prostitute”, Cecil Beaton labeled a “harlot”, Jean Cocteau described as a “bad influence” and Gore Vidal defined as “a fatal man”.

“In all European dynasties there have been homosexuals and bisexuals. In the case of the Bourbons, this has been assumed since the time of Louis XIV. The Sun King’s little brother, Philippe of Orleans, was openly gay. The taboo is a petty-bourgeois thing,” says the writer and royalty expert Ricardo Mateos Sáinz de Medrano in conversation with EL PAÍS. Sáinz de Medrano, author of numerous royal biographies such as Queen Sofia’s family (2004) or The sisters-in-law of Isabel II: the rarest infantas that Spain has produced (2022), makes a brief review of recent history to show that monarchies are plagued by romances queer: from the idyll that King Gustav V of Sweden, great-grandfather of the current Swedish monarch, had with a younger married man in the 1930s, to the affaire of Prince George of Greece with his own uncle, Prince Valdemar of Denmark, in the early 20th century. However, all of these relationships took place at a time when homosexuality was a crime, which fueled secrecy and clandestinity. Even today, the European royal families are reluctant to vindicate that past or to consider what would happen in the future if an heir or heiress to the throne fell in love with a person of the same sex as hers.

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“The story of Pablo de Grecia and Denny Fouts was always public and notorious among the jet set and members of the royal families, but Truman Capote was the first to tell it to the general public”, admits Sáinz de Medrano, who in his book Queen Sofia’s family It also includes this sentimental chapter in the life of the grandfather of the current Felipe VI. Capote narrated the link between the Greek prince and the professional playboy with his characteristic irony and that romantic tone that gave him worldwide fame.. “It was in Capri that Denny caught sight of a 70-year-old great-grandfather who was also a director of Dutch Oil and ran off with him. But this gentleman lost Denny in the hands of royalty, Prince Paul, later King Paul of Greece,” says the writer and journalist in answered prayers. “The prince’s age was much closer to Denny’s, and their affection for each other was quite balanced, so much so that once, in Vienna, they went to get the same tattoo, a small blue badge above the heart, though I don’t remember what it was or what it meant. I also don’t remember how it ended, except that the end was a dispute that stemmed from Denny snorting cocaine in the bar of the Beau Rivage hotel in Lausanne.”

The American writer Arthur Vanderbilt confirmed this story in Best-kept boy in the worldFouts’s biography, published in 2014. According to Vanderbilt, Queen Sofia’s father and the bon vivant American met in the late 1920s at a party at Tredegar House, the Welsh country home of aristocrat Evan Morgan. The relationship had the complicity of the Bright Young Things, an intellectual and artistic group made up of nobles such as Evelyn Waugh, Stephen Tennant and Siegfried Sassoon. Gore Vidal defined that circle as “the glamorous world of the Mountbatten, where everyone was bisexual and got married.” For a few years, the prince and the gigolo maintained an intense correspondence — the future king addressed his object of affection as “my dear Denham” and signed all his telegrams “with love, Paul” —. The relationship cooled after the wedding of the Hellenic prince, 36, with Frederica of Hannover, 20 and granddaughter of the last German emperor. Fouts found solace in millionaire art collector Peter Watson. As Capote told editor George Plimpton, “If Denny had slept with Hitler he would have saved the world from World War II.”

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Francisco de Asís de Borbón, in an image of the Royal Academy of History.

Francisco de Asís de Borbón, husband of Isabel II, is the most outstanding case within the Spanish royal family. Historian Pierre de Luz was the first to write about the alleged bisexuality of King Juan Carlos’ great-great-grandfather in his biography Elizabeth II, Queen of Spain, published in 1936, five years after the fall of the Alfonsine monarchy. In it, he describes the consort as “small, thin, with a mannered gesture, a high-pitched voice and a mechanical doll’s gait.” The people referred to him with derogatory and homophobic nicknames such as “Doña Paquita”, “Paquita Custard” or “Paquito Mariquito”. According to De Luz’s book, when they told the monarch that she had to marry her first cousin, she screamed, kicked, cried and threatened: “Before I married paquitaI prefer to abdicate.” They said “yes, I do” on October 10, 1846 and officially had 12 children, although the marriage was always the subject of mockery and satire. Shortly before the 1868 Revolution, a series of caricatures began to circulate that exposed the king’s sexual preferences (and the queen’s infidelities). Graduated The Bourbons in ball and Signed with the pseudonym SEM, some attribute them to the Bécquer brothers, although others believe that they are the work of the Republican humorist Francisco Ortego.

Ricardo Mateos Sáinz de Medrano, who is now writing a biography of Francisco de Asís, confirms that the king had relations with other men before and after the wedding. “In Pamplona, ​​still single, he had a secretary who was removed from his side. According to the letters, the family said that things happened in that relationship that were not appropriate, ”says the writer. “But his most important relationship was with the aristocrat Antonio Ramos de Meneses, Duke of Baños,” he adds. Francisco de Asís y Meneses, who was also married, lived together for a long time, even in exile, after the 1868 revolution.

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At the beginning of the 20th century, there were two other notorious examples in Spain: that of Francisco de Borbón y Borbón, Duke of Marchena and cousin of Alfonso XII, who died in 1923 in a psychiatric clinic in Paris that performed treatments supposedly to cure the homosexuality; and that of Luis Fernando de Orleans y Borbón, cousin of Alfonso XIII, whose title of infant was withdrawn due to his sexual condition and his “not very exemplary” behavior. “Luis Fernando was the first openly gay member of the Spanish royal family. And the only one”, points out Eduardo Álvarez Bragado, author of a novel biography of the infant titled Eulalia’s son. The rebel Bourbon became a benchmark of culture queer of the time. Marcel Proust would have been inspired by him to create the character of Baron Palamède de Guermantes in In Search of Lost Timean aristocrat tormented by his sexual condition.

“At that time, the European courts already accepted the homosexuality of their members quite naturally, but they did not allow it to be flaunted, to be made public. The infant Luis Fernando crossed that line”, assures Álvarez Bragado. The Spanish and international press of the twenties of the last century began to cover the escapades of the son of the Infanta Eulalia. The death of one of her lovers in a night out and her involvement in a drug trafficking case were the straws that broke the camel’s back. In 1924, Alfonso XIII stripped his cousin of his infant privileges and expelled him from the royal family. “You take away the only thing that you cannot order, since our titles are inherent to our persons. I was born and I will die an infant of Spain, as you were born and will die King of Spain, a long time after your subjects give you the kick in the ass that you deserve”, Luis Fernando would have told the king. “They condemned him to ostracism until the end of his days,” laments Álvarez Bragado. He died in 1945 after a castration operation to remove the testicular cancer he suffered from. He is buried in Paris, “where nobody remembers him,” says his biographer.

Francis of Bavaria with his partner, Thomas Greinwald, at the opera Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, in the city of Baden-Baden, Germany, on July 25, 2022.
Francis of Bavaria with his partner, Thomas Greinwald, at the opera Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, in the city of Baden-Baden, Germany, on July 25, 2022.Daniel Karman (Getty)

In 2018, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of England, became the first member of the Windsor dynasty to marry another man. In 2021, Duke Francis of Bavaria, 89, was the first head of a European royal house, that of Wittelsbach, to officially pose with his partner, Thomas Greinwald. The image, taken by the Dutch artist Erwin Olaf, went around the world. But for Álvarez Bragado, homosexuality and bisexuality continue to be a taboo in royalty. “The matter is still not being discussed, to the point that those who have to undertake legal reforms do not want to do so. In Spain, where equal marriage has been legal since 2005, the Constitution and the current laws that govern the functioning of the monarchy do not contemplate the possibility that an heir or heiress to the throne is homosexual”, points out the writer.

This debate has been opened in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2001. A member of Parliament asked in 2021 if Princess Amalia of Orange, daughter of Kings Willem-Alexander and Máxima and heir to the throne, she could marry another woman and still be the head of state. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte replied that there is no legal obstacle for a king or queen to marry a person of the same sex, although he did not clarify how the issue of descent would be resolved in an institution that is based precisely on succession. hereditary, from father to son. Rutte only specified that “it must be clear who the children are in a marriage between two people of the same sex.” Perhaps that is the first step so that no prince or princess queer have to hide in a palace closet again.

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