The 'gay mafia' of the royal household
The rumours have been washing through Fleet Street. Queen Elizabeth intervened in Paul Burrell's trial, they alleged, to avoid his going into the witness box at the Old Bailey and revealing tales of homosexual rape, male orgies and a gay mafia in control of the royal househol
The rumours have been washing through Fleet Street. Queen Elizabeth intervened in Paul Burrell's trial, they alleged, to avoid his going into the witness box at the Old Bailey and revealing tales of homosexual rape, male orgies and a gay mafia in control of the royal household.
That there is at least some truth in them has only fanned the gossips' flames. Prince Charles acknowledges running up a legal bill of at least stg£100,000 (?160,000) on behalf of a trusted member of staff accused of raping another man. The allegation was widely known in the household, as the Spectator magazine, a staunch defender of the monarchy, reported.
Last year detectives interviewed the alleged attacker; he denied everything. The man he was said to have raped reportedly developed a mental illness; aware he would not be an ideal witness, the police took no action.
Former colleagues of the alleged rapist say he is a bully who lives a charmed life. "He was good at making himself indispensable," said one. "He delivers, and in return for that the prince will forgive him anything. The prince does fall in love with people."
The Windsors tend to be comfortable with gay staff. The Queen Mother famously upbraided her attendants with the line: "When one of you old queens has finished, this old queen would like a drink." Discretion also had its part, however. Until this month homosexual couples invited to royal events were encouraged to pass themselves off as siblings. One guest complained he could hardly do so, as his boyfriend was black.
But for their detractors, the Windsors' relaxed attitudes were destined to bring trouble. Twenty years ago, Buckingham Palace investigated an alleged homosexual orgy on the royal yacht Britannia, when Burrell was a footman. One member of staff was required to resign.
Some whisper that Burrell was implicated in those events; others mention a telephone call to Scotland Yard after Burrell's arrest. The Australian caller described "alleged aspects of Burrell's private conduct that might not entirely tally with his public image", according to the Spectator.
Police sources reportedly maintain that their questioning of Burrell failed to produce a consistent personality or a consistent story.
The Spectator is counting on the week's revelations harming those at the peripheries rather than the centre of power. "However unfounded it might be," it says, "a suspicion is taking root that the homosexual mafia that infiltrates the court has had a criminal case stopped to protect the prince from sordid revelations concerning one of its own.
"That impression will not easily be dispersed, and nor will the feeling that the queen, trying as always to do the decent thing, has been seriously ill used."