How to escape the coronation farce? Celebrate King Charles’s ex at a Big Gay Diana Party
This Saturday, the two remaining members of Diana’s marriage are to officially become His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort. I am currently visiting London which, given the impending royal wankfest, was a mistake.
The closer I get to the centre, the more my eyes are accosted by gently fluttering strings of Union Jacks, garish depictions of our dearly beloved new monarch, and limited edition Krispy Kreme ‘coronation doughnuts’ (other brands are inevitably also available in a nauseating purple).
Around Victoria Station was a hellscape when I arrived last week, and I’m worried that returning to catch my coach back to Bristol may actually be the end of me. But return I must. Because I have to be in Bristol on Coronation night.
This is because volunteer-run cinema and event space, The Cube Microplex, is holding two coronation themed events this Saturday.
The first is a 3pm cake eating hangout and panel discussion about the Empire and what exactly we are celebrating on this auspicious day. The second is a Big Gay Diana Party, hosted by myself and audio producer, Cube organiser, and cool fellow queer friend Rosa Eaton.
Aside from the obvious reason for hosting this event – that it is just incredibly funny – various monarchical, cultural and camp factors have contributed to Big Gay Diana Party developing from a stupid idea I had into a real Big Gay Party.
We are, after all, about to place a guy who happened to be born into extreme wealth and privilege on a throne with a big crown on his head. Perhaps this is not the type of person everyone in the country wants to put on a pedestal and celebrate?
Six immortal words
In 2019, former Doctor Who lead man and all-round excellent actor Christopher Eccleston simultaneously pissed off royalists and entertained terminally online leftists with one Instagram post.
The post in question was a photo of our dearly beloved ex monarch, Liz #2, in her large shiny crown. The photo was captioned: “Parasite in Chief in her idiot hat.”
These six simple words captured something of a cultural zeitgeist around evolving attitudes towards the monarchy within the UK. Despite the Queen’s death and outpouring of mourning, negative views towards the monarchy seem to be growing.
A recent survey by the National Centre for Social Research found that the percentage of people who believe the monarchy is “very important” has dropped to a historic low of 29%, down from 38% in 2022. In Bristol, anti-monarchy protesters will gather on College Green on Saturday – just metres away from where royal fanatics will flock to watch the Coronation on a big screen.
A cynic might suggest that recent developments concerning the disgraced Duke of York and his perspiratory Pizza Express hangouts had had a hand in this – but I am not a cynic, so will not suggest this.
‘All the gays have their Diana phase’
Conversely, a 2022 YouGov poll found that public support for Diana, Princess of Wales and hearts and gays, was at 72%.
Trying to explain the undying love that myself and other queer folks have for Diana is difficult. It revolves around the usual understandings of tragic female figures being elevated to iconic status due to affinity developed through shared marginalisation.
It has something to do with the work she did for AIDS victims in the 80s, breaking through Section 28 to hold hands with people who were suffering through no fault of their own. It has something to do with celebrating posh pretty white girls, for some reason. It comes from solidarity with young women dating disappointing old men. It is simultaneously serious and ironic. And so camp.
I firmly believe that all the gays have a Diana phase at some point. Mine started last year, as I began to actively embrace my identity.
It provides a shorthand for connecting with other people from a community that you are trying to find your place in. I held the hands of friends and lovers earnestly telling me that they just weren’t that into Diana because she was a part of an outdated ruling class leeching off the state, while I patiently explained that they were incorrect and refused to provide any explanation as to why, further than shouts of “she was wronged.”
The Big Gay Diana party will involve kings and queens of the drag variety, DJs, live music, and an incredibly shit documentary I found. It will be a beautiful, messy, haphazardly-organised celebration of queer joy, and an escape from all things red white and blue.