Happy Pride Month! Let’s look back at an early champion of Pride.
The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III (Andrew Roberts):
In September 1772, John Wilkes joined other important City figures in criticizing the King’s commutation of capital punishment for Captain Robert Jones, who had been sentenced to hang for sodomizing a thirteen-year-old boy (although surprisingly the victim’s age did not seem to have played a part in Jones’ conviction). Friends of Jones – a fireworks expert who had also popularized the sport of figure skating – produced female prostitutes who attested to his bisexuality, as though that would alleviate the seriousness of the crime. Jones (who was in fact an artillery lieutenant) was due to hang until, on the day of the execution, George commuted his sentence to life imprisonment, and then a month later allowed him to go into lifelong exile in the South of France.
Nor was it the only time that George defied the vicious prejudices of the day against homosexuality and bisexuality. In June 1766, as a favour to his theatre-loving brother Prince Edward, the King signed a document making the Little Theatre in Haymarket into the Theatre Royal, which stated that it was ‘Our will and pleasure’ that Samuel Foote, the flamboyant impresario, should have ‘a company of comedians’ act there every summer, and authorized him to charge the sums necessary to offset ‘the great expense of scenes, music and new decorations’.
A footnote showing how much we’ve been enriched by the work of Gender Studies faculty:
These labels of sexual identity were not recognized in the eighteenth century, when people thought and spoke in terms of actual sexual practices, such as sodomy, onanism and so on.
Imagine if elementary school kids, instead of being taught 2SLGBTQQIA+ vocabulary, received an education regarding “actual sexual practices”!
- Police spent more than £90,000 on Pride t-shirts, fans and rainbow merch (pinknews.co.uk) (from 2020) could be considered King George III’s legacy?