The King’s Openly Gay Cousin, His Husband & Ex-Wife Share Their Story

Director Michael Grandage’s ‘My Policeman’ tells the story of a complicated dynamic between  Tom (Harry Styles), his wife Marion (Emma Corrin) and lover Patrick (David Dawson).

Similar to the film adaptation’s plot, King Charles III’s second cousin Lord Ivar Mountbatten was also married to his former wife Penny Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, for 17 years, and he eventually got married to his now husband James Coyle in 2018.

Ivar and Penny were married from 1994 to 2011 before publicly coming out. Thereafter, he became the first member of the British monarch’s extended family to be in an openly same-sex relationship, as well as the first one to get married to a same-sex partner.


In fact, Penny even walked Ivar down the aisle when he got married to James. In an interview with Attitude, the trio shared their real-life love triangle, with the Countess Mountbatten of Burma starting off with how she met Ivar.

“Ivar and I met at a dinner party in London. I was very attracted to him straight away.

A few months after I met Ivar, we went for a walk and he told me he thought he’d never get married because he was attracted to men as well as women. And I immediately not only found that to be quite a good challenge, but also that was something that I accepted and wasn’t really worried about at all,” she expressed.

However, Penny admitted that their grand wedding was not the fondest of memories for her stating,

“It wasn’t the happiest day of my life. I was glad when it was over.”


On the other hand, Ivar had fun during their wedding expressing,

“I really loved my wedding day. [Penny] says she didn’t like it at all. I thought it was great fun, but, you know, the whole point of a wedding is to have fun. I think it might have been a little bit stressful for her.”

Despite his sexuality, Lord Mountbatten had nothing but positive words to describe his relationship with his former wife explaining,

“You sort of gradually fall in love with somebody who’s actually a very good friend. And she has a great sense of humor, we got on very well together, she was very helpful all-round. It was a great match.”


The former couple have three daughters named Ella, Alexandra and Louise, and although their marriage lasted for over a decade, Ivar’s affairs eventually led to their separation in 2010 and a divorce the following year.

“I think initially Ivar kept his relationships secret and it was quite obvious to me that he was having affairs with other people. I was extremely jealous and just had to kind of swallow it and deal with it,” Penny shared.

She continued,

“I realized in the last few years of our marriage that he really would be so much happier if he was being authentic, and having a secret within the family, I think is really toxic. And as our girls were growing up, I didn’t want them to pick up on any more, sort of, clues that their father might be gay. And in order to encourage Ivar to do that, I had to end our marriage.”


Furthermore, Ivar expressed his realization after getting divorced stating,

“You know, marriage, whether to boys or girls, is never easy. What our divorce enabled me to do was be truthful, and I suppose I’m more comfortable with a boy.”

The former married couple were on good terms even after ending their marriage, and Penny also became fond of James when Ivar introduced her to him.

“It wasn’t until Ivar met James and he asked me to go and meet him that I realized that he’d met somebody significant… And in fact, [James] and I really got on very well, because we’re similar in certain ways. It was such a relief because I knew my girls would like him too,” she stated.


James is an airline cabin services director, and he met Ivar at a ski resort in Verbier. Back then, he didn’t know that the latter was an extended family member of the British monarch. James told Attitude about what he felt after Ivar publicly came out, giving him an assurance in their relationship.

“I’d really fallen for him, absolutely, and he for me. When the story broke in the press it was front page [news]. It was the MailOnline that [meant that] after midnight my phone just started going crazy: ‘Queen’s cousin Lord Ivar Mountbatten is gay.’

That kind of attention, in doing that, was another show of his feelings for me and what he wanted to do and what he wanted to tell the world… not just about himself, but about us. And then leading on from that, we decided we wanted to get married. So, he wanted to give me some sort of security in that I’m now his husband,” he stated.


The couple got married two years after Lord Mountbatten came out, and it seemingly was a happy memory for the trio. 

“On the morning of the wedding, and it was kind of drizzling outside, and Penny had organized a Scottish piper to come up the drive. [It was] so special. Penny gave Ivar away, which I think again was a commitment to the solidarity of our family,” James expressed.


Likewise, Penny has fonder memories of Ivar and James’ wedding compared to her own stating,

“Ivar and James’s wedding was a most fantastic day – much better than Ivar’s and my wedding, I’ve gotta say. But it was just so joyful; there wasn’t much formality… I chose a really attractive piper to come up and play outside the boys’ bedroom window.”

The Countess Mountbatten of Burma further explained,

“The reason that I suggested that I walked Ivar down the aisle… I didn’t want to be the girl in the corner who everyone was worrying about. You know, saying ‘Are you OK?’ Of course, the best way to deal with things like that is to embrace it. But it was a really happy time, I loved it.”


James also mentioned that Penny has been the “backbone” of their family stating,

“She sees this, Ivar and I, for what it is. That we truly love each other, we’re going to spend our lives together, and that the only way forward is for us to be one happy family.”


This trio’s relationship is truly beautiful and precious. <3

Moreover, a similar complicated love triangle is portrayed in the 2022 film ‘My Policeman,’ which will be available for streaming on Prime Video on November 4.


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