QUEENS

QUEENS

Подпись: Catherine the Great The Russian empress, who ruled as a so-called enlightened despot in the late 18th century, was infamous for the number of lovers she had. She married Grand Duke Peter in 1745, but he was simple-minded and preferred playing with his toy soldiers and dogs to playing with her. A problem with his foreskin also made sex impossible until he was circumcised. In the meantime, his wife developed a taste for young military men and had her bedroom curtained off, so she could receive lovers in private but only after they had been vetted by the court physician. This also turned out to be a convenient way of supplying the Grand Duke's heirs. One of her most passionate affairs was with Prince Grigory Potemkin, who, once his purpose was served, helped her find suitable subsequent lovers. The last of her paramours, who was with her until her death at the age of 67, was a prince 40 years her junior. Some people say Catherine had 300 lovers, but a figure in the low teens might be nearer the mark.

Several kings of England were rumoured to be gay and some most certainly were. James I had a succession of male lovers, including the Earl of Somerset and George Villiers whom he referred to as his ‘sweet child and wife’. Extraordinarily handsome, Villiers rose from the humble post of royal cupbearer to Gentleman of the Bedchamber and finally to Earl of Buckingham. Edward II had a ‘lifelong very good friend’ in Piers Gaveston, who was decapitated by jealous nobles in 1312. Edward met a terrible end in 1327 when he was tortured to death by his wife Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, harsh treatment which included a red-hot poker up the backside. Other homosexual monarchs include Richard the Lionheart and Queen Anne who maintained a lifelong passion foi Sarah Jennings, despite the fact that both were married.