On Wednesday, July 17, 2013, gay men and lesbians of England and Wales looked to Buckingham Palace for news from the Queen. It wasn’t a royal birth announcement, or Prince Harry’s latest semi-naked exploits that they waited for. It was something even closer to their hearts.
Two days earlier, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act had passed its third and final reading in Parliament’s House of Lords, followed by one last debate in the House of Commons. All that was left for the bill to become law was Royal Assent—a symbolic formality whereby the Queen is asked to approve any new British law before it goes into effect.
Twitter was abuzz with excitement, including photomontages of the Queen in colorful rainbow flag outfits. When Buckingham Palace gave the royal seal of approval, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “After a long parliamentary process, gay marriage became law tonight–something I believe we can be proud of as a country,” Ben Summerskill, chief executive of British lesbian, gay, and bisexual equality organization Stonewall tweeted: “When I was a boy I never imagined I’d see this in my lifetime. Thank you,” and gay, actor, comedian, and TV presenter Stephen Fry tweeted: “Thanks, Your Majesty, for the Royal Assent. You soon won’t be the only married queen in Britain. Hurrah hurray hurroo!”