For nearly 20 years, this TV presenter – with his silver hair and charming personality – has been a familiar face on our screens. After all, he’s the co-host of a morning show that around one million viewers tune in to watch each day. And when he’s not on his talk show, he fronts other programs and even co-stars in specials with his wife of more than a quarter of a century. But on February 7, 2020, this beloved TV anchor made an unexpected confession regarding his sexuality – and it left fans reeling.
The presenter in question has been on British television since 1985, when he first got his foot in the door introducing BBC kids’ shows. And he subsequently became even more well-known almost two decades later: in 2002 he bagged a co-hosting role on This Morning. Nowadays, he presents the U.K. version of Dancing on Ice, adding yet another string to his bow.
By now, you might recognize the presenter in question: Phillip Schofield. And just before the host appeared on an episode of This Morning on February 7, he posted a rather unexpected statement on his Instagram. You see, the post in question contained a surprising revelation about his sexuality, which he went on to discuss in more detail while the cameras were rolling.
Many years before Schofield took to the airwaves to reveal the truth about his sexuality, though, his TV career was just getting started – and not where you might expect. Yes, the future TV host first pursued his vocation on an island far away from his native England. That’s because his parents relocated to New Zealand when he was in his late teens. And the locale was seemingly a home away from home for Schofield, as from 1982 he presented a kids’ music show called Shazam! and further honed his hosting skills at a radio station.
Three years later, though, the presenter apparently yearned for his native country. Yes, in 1985 he returned to the U.K. and resumed his TV career. He started out on Children’s BBC in that same year, in fact, before becoming the co-host of the Saturday morning kids’ show Going Live! – a program that aired for six years from 1987. However, improving his job prospects seemingly wasn’t the only thing that Schofield focused on during this period.
Yes, while working at the BBC, Schofield fell in love with fellow crew member Stephanie Lowe. And after a long courtship, the two wed in 1993 at a bayside castle in Scotland. The couple have since settled in Henley-on-Thames, England, and started a family together, too.
Schofield and Lowe now have two daughters together: Molly and Ruby. The girls and their mother tend to shy away from the spotlight, though – something that the TV presenter touched upon when he appeared on Lorraine in 2017. “She worked in television years ago, that was how we met, so she can do it,” he said. “She just doesn’t want to these days.”
Instead, Schofield has been the one to remain in the public eye. He became a nationally-known figure when he was made a co-host of This Morning in 2002. At first, he appeared alongside Fern Britton, but Holly Willoughby took over the role in 2009. And she and Schofield have been hosting the show together ever since.
On top of this rather enviable job, Schofield and Willoughby have also teamed up to present ITV’s Dancing on Ice – a celebrity ice-skating competition. The program originally aired from 2006 to 2014, at which point the network ended the series. But ITV subsequently revived it in 2018 and asked Schofield and Willoughby to return as hosts.
Moreover, despite Lowe’s apparent shyness in front of the camera, the presenter did manage to coax her into co-starring with him in a travel show that aired in 2017. Schofield explained Lowe’s rare appearance on Lorraine, saying, “She will only film with me.”
The short series – titled Phillip Schofield’s South African Adventure – followed him and Lowe as they trekked through South Africa. In the first episode of the show, Schofield plunged into the sea in a cage to get up close to a great white shark. Next, he and his wife enjoyed a change of pace and went for a much more relaxing stroll around Cape Town.
Over the course of the show’s three episodes, Schofield said Lowe had become increasingly comfortable in front of the camera. “She got more into it as we went along,” he recalled. And the This Morning host has since said he’d be open to filming another season with his spouse.
Schofield has helped his eldest daughter, Molly, to break into the entertainment business, too. Her work keeps her behind the scenes, though, as she’s employed by a talent agency and manages her famous father. The firm represents Schofield’s This Morning co-host Willoughby, too, as well as singer Rochelle Humes and TV presenter Emma Willis.
Conversely, Molly’s younger sister, Ruby, has completed a psychology degree. And according to Schofield, both daughters help him out with a particular area of his life. You see, he told Hello! in February 2020 that they keep his social media activities in check. “I don’t post anything without their say-so. I check with them, is this okay?” Schofield admitted. “But they’re fine with it. My eldest daughter is my manager, so she’s well across it all.”
Schofield has also revealed that Molly and Ruby “keep [him] very current” in his pop culture knowledge. “Both of them have great taste in music and play stuff that I maybe haven’t heard before,” he explained. In one anecdote, he recalled his youngest introducing him to the song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor before it became a hit.
Such tales indicate how tight-knit the Schofield family is. Moreover, they aren’t just tight with one another. They also have a strong bond with Schofield’s co-presenter Willoughby, her husband, Dan Baldwin, and their three kids. And both families frequently vacation together when the two hosts aren’t filming their morning show.
Through the ups and downs of life and show business, though, Schofield and Lowe’s bond has endured. And in 2018 the couple celebrated their 25-year wedding anniversary, with the TV host dedicating an Instagram post to his wife of a quarter-century. “[Two] birthdays and a silver wedding anniversary in one week!” he captioned it. “That’s a lot of cards. Happy 25th Mrs. S.”
All of this, of course, made Schofield’s announcement earlier this year even more surprising. On that Friday morning, he took to Instagram and released a statement to his fans just before going on-air for an episode of This Morning. The message began with a glimpse into the presenter’s state of mind: he’d long been grappling with something.
“You never know what’s going on in someone’s seemingly perfect life, what issues they are struggling with, or the state of their wellbeing – and so you won’t know what has been consuming me for the last few years,” Schofield wrote. And with that, the presenter added, “I have been coming to terms with the fact that I am gay.”
Of course, such a revelation would no doubt greatly affect Schofield’s daughters, Molly and Ruby, as well as Lowe, his wife of almost 27 years. “This is something that has caused many heartbreaking conversations at home,” he admitted. Nonetheless, the presenter went on to state that he’d received nothing but support from his spouse and their children.
“My family have held me so close. They have tried to cheer me up, to smother me with kindness and love, despite their own confusion,” Schofield wrote. “Yet still I can’t sleep, and there have been some very dark moments.” So, even coming out in such an accepting environment had done little to ease the presenter’s mind, it appears.
“My inner conflict contrasts with an outside world that has changed so very much for the better,” Schofield continued. “Today, quite rightly, being gay is a reason to celebrate and be proud. Yes, I am feeling pain and confusion – but that comes only from the hurt that I am causing to my family.”
And the next part of Schofield’s statement highlighted just how much his family had stepped in to buttress him in his time of need. Of Lowe, he wrote that she’d “been incredible” and that “she is the kindest soul I have ever met.” Molly and Ruby, too, had “been astonishing in their love, hugs and encouraging words of support.”
Schofield noted that both his and Lowe’s extended families had offered him their backing as well. On top of that, he had also relied on the love of his friends to help get him through this difficult period. The presenter claimed he’d received extra-strong backing from his co-host Willoughby, for instance, writing she “has hugged [him] as [he] sobbed on her shoulder.”
In the end, then, Schofield couldn’t hide his truth – and he came to that realization while working on This Morning. “Every day… I sit in awe of those we meet who have been brave and open in confronting their truth, so now it’s my turn to share mine,” he admitted. Schofield concluded by sharing his hope that he could “find peace in [his] mind and a way forward” now that he’d told the world about his sexuality.
What’s more, shortly afterwards, Schofield appeared on This Morning as both a presenter and a topic of conversation. Willoughby read her co-host’s statement aloud, then turned to him and said, “This is a big day.” Next, she asked him how he felt, to which he replied, “Every person I tell, it gets a little lighter and a little lighter.”
Of course, one of the first people Schofield had to tell was his wife. Willoughby asked how Lowe was coping with the news, and the presenter could only gush about his spouse of 27 years. “She is amazing, she’s incredible,” he said. “I’ve never in my life… There is no one in my life who would have supported me the way, as a wife, the way she supported me. She’s astonishing, literally.”
From there, Willoughby wondered why Schofield had chosen this particular moment to make the revelation. He pointed out that she knew the question of his sexuality had been causing him concern “for a very long time.” And according to the presenter, the openly gay This Morning guests whom he had interviewed over the years were the ones who ultimately made him realize “[he has] to be that person.”
Schofield then advised others in a similar situation that they should also reach out and talk to someone if they needed help. “Believe me, when we say that – and we do say that a lot on this show – you must talk to someone,” he stated. “You must talk to someone. I have, and it’s helped a lot. And it’s brought me back from, I mentioned those dark places in the statement. Talking to people does bring you back, and in some cases, talking to people saves you.”
Nonetheless, Schofield admitted that he did harbor plenty of guilt for having to reveal a truth that would change his family and cause pain to Lowe, Molly and Ruby. “At the same time, I will sit here and say, actually, I’m proud of myself today,” Schofield added. “And I am proud of myself today.”
With that, Willoughby had a final question for Schofield. She wondered, you see, if he had a vision for the future – including any potential new relationships. But her co-host said he had nothing mapped out beyond revealing his sexuality to the world. “I’m not thinking there,” he explained. “I’m doing each day at a time now.”
“This has always been a slow process, and there’s no fast process after this,” Schofield continued. “This was the big day, and this was the day that I knew that everything was pointing towards.” He then thanked his co-host, saying that he “could not have done it if it hadn’t been” for Willoughby.
And since then, plenty of stars have tried to bolster Schofield with their support. First came Willoughby, who took to Instagram shortly after their This Morning interview. She shared an image of the pair along with the words, “Never been more proud of my friend than I am today.”
Comedian and author David Walliams shared positive sentiments towards Schofield, too, via Twitter. “I am sending all my love to Phillip Schofield today,” the Little Britain star wrote. “I have always held him in the highest regard and now have nothing but respect and admiration for him. Let’s hope we are moving towards a world where no-one has to come out anymore; they can just be who they are and celebrate that.”
Moreover, Paul Burrell – who previously served as a butler to the British Royal Family – knew better than most what Schofield had gone through. After all, Burrell himself had come out on This Morning three years prior to the co-host’s admission. The Queen’s one-time employee reiterated to OK! in February 2020 how tough an experience revealing one’s sexuality is – especially considering it’s “not something straight people ever have to do.”
Of course, most messages highlighted the love surrounding Schofield. John Barrowman – a judge on Dancing on Ice – took to Instagram to welcome his colleague into the LGBTQ+ community. “Welcome to your truth and authentic self,” he wrote. “The nation loves you for who you are.”
What’s more, these and other messages sparked a response from Schofield himself. Yes, on the evening after he released his statement and appeared on This Morning, he posted on his Instagram story to thank everyone who had shown him such positivity. “You will never know how important your support has been today,” Schofield wrote.
“I’ve read as much as I can. Please, please, no matter your age or your thoughts, TALK to someone,” Schofield continued. “Don’t let your head beat you, and hopefully you’ll find out that your friends and family have a remarkable ability to surprise you with their love and understanding.”
And as for Schofield’s family, they’ve remained a united front in the face of the news. After the revelation broke, he and Lowe took a trip to Paris with Ruby and Molly. The TV host even shared a handful of images from the vacation, accompanying two of the pictures with a simple heart.
Unsurprisingly, one person in particular loved the Schofield family snaps from Paris: his co-host Willoughby. She commented with her own string of hearts on a post about the trip that Schofield’s daughter Ruby shared. So, the family has seemingly dealt with Schofield’s revelation in the most positive way possible – and Schofield and Lowe seemingly haven’t made any preparations for a divorce.
But statements regarding well-known figures’ sexualities have rocked Britain a number of times – and one such confession came from the Queen’s own relative. It’s April 1994, and Lord Ivar Mountbatten and Penny Anne Vere Thompson are exchanging vows at St Peter & St Paul’s Church in the historic market town of Clare, Suffolk. And as the newlyweds are joined by members of the British royal family, the couple look blissfully happy. Little does anyone know though, that in another 24 years Ivar will completely break with royal tradition – and in a rather astonishing way, too.
The groom on that day was born Ivar Alexander Michael Mountbatten in London in March 1963. And as his title suggests, his parents, David Michael Mountbatten, the third Marquess of Milford Haven, and Janet Mercedes Bryce, were naturally part of the upper echelons of British society. Ivar was actually the couple’s second son, as his elder brother, George Ivar Louis, had come into the world two years previously.
Moreover, Ivar’s mother and father had tied the knot in Hampstead, London, two years prior to his birth. That occasion marked David’s second marriage, as he’d previously been wed previously to American socialite Romaine Dahlgren Pierce. The two had divorced, however, in 1954.
Ivar’s family were well connected to the British royal family, too. David was the first cousin of Prince Phillip, you see, while the marquess’ own father, George Mountbatten, the Second Marquess of Milford Haven, had been the brother of the prince’s mother. David even served as the best man when Phillip wed the then-Princess Elizabeth in November 1947.
That wasn’t all, either. Ivar’s father was also the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria as well as a distant cousin of Elizabeth II. There were links to other royal clans to boot. David’s Russian mother, Nadejda Torby, was the great-granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I, for instance, while Ivar himself is also a descendant of both Alexander Pushkin and Catherine the Great.
But none of these lofty connections saved Ivar from personal tragedy. He was only seven years old, in fact, when his father died unexpectedly in 1970. David had collapsed at Liverpool Street Station in London after suffering a heart attack. And upon his death, his eldest son, George, ultimately became the fourth Marquess of Milford Haven.
Then, several years after his father had passed away, Ivar went on to study at the prestigious Gordonstoun School in Morayshire, Scotland. The private institution is renowned as having taught a number of royals, including Prince Phillip and Prince Charles as well as Princess Anne’s children, Peter and Zara Phillips.
Ivar would then continue his first-class education at Middlebury College – a private liberal arts institution in Vermont. And he studied at the establishment for four years until 1986, after which he left with a degree in geology and Earth science.
Then, with his classes completed, Ivar was ready to step out into the world of work. In the end, in fact, he found employment in Caracas, Venezuela, where he was employed as a PA to the CEO of Monarch Resources Ltd. After a year at the firm, however, he took another job in the city as an executive director at Delta Minerals Ltd. Ivar spent five years in that role, which saw him involved in exploring and developing mineral deposits in Venezuelan Guyana.
In 1993 Ivar then left Venezuela and moved back to England, where he began working in the corporate entertainment sector. He also ran a property that he had inherited from a cousin – the Moyns Park country retreat in Steeple Bumpstead, Essex. And it was during this period of his life that his personal life began to flourish, too, as he would meet the woman who would ultimately become his wife.
In 2018 Penny Thompson spoke about that relationship to the Daily Mail, explaining that Ivar had appeared to be quite a lonely man when she had first encountered him. So, she began inviting him to social events, and over the next few months, the connection between the two intensified.
Penny continued, “We first got together when Ivar invited me up for his 30th birthday party at Moyns. I stayed on afterwards to help him start his event management business and sort of never left after that. I guess we fell in love while organizing Moyns as a business and riding horses daily around the estate – making plans. Then, one day, Ivar said, ‘If I ask you to marry me, would you say yes?’”
Penny accepted Ivar’s hand in marriage, and the pair got hitched in 1994. The aristocrat’s close friend Prince Edward and his partner Sophie Rhys-Jones attended the plush wedding, while the afterparty was held at Ivar’s Moyns Park residence.
The Queen’s only sister, the late Princess Margaret, was also present at the celebration, and she even helped out during a nervous moment for the bride. Penny revealed to the Daily Mail, “I was wearing the heavy family tiara which made my hair flop forwards. I remember Princess Margaret was sticking in the pins to hold it on when we signed the register.”
What’s more, the first few years of Ivar and Penny’s marriage were apparently very happy ones. The pair did their fair share of traveling during that time, embarking on numerous trips around the world and enjoying expensive holidays in idyllic locations such as Bermuda. Penny and Ivar even enjoyed extended weekend breaks with Hollywood icon Joan Collins in the south of France.
And the couple’s family would ultimately grow, too. Ella was the first of their children to arrive in March 1996; Alexandra followed two years later, then Louise in July 2002. The two eldest daughters would even have Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as their godparents.
Away from his personal life, in 1998 Ivar began working as a managing director for Crown Self Storage Ltd – a role in which he ultimately stayed for more than a decade. That year also saw him become a managing director of Bridwell Park Estate – a 100-acre piece of land in Devon that plays host to both an event venue and a farm.
But Ivar had one major personal issue to deal with during his marriage to Penny. You see, he came to realize that he was gay, although he worried about how the news would be taken by his relatives. Indeed, if Ivar did decide to publicly come out, it would make him the first person in the wider royal family to have ever done so.
Still, Penny wasn’t completely in the dark about Ivar’s sexuality. Just two months after they had met, you see, he’d reportedly revealed to her that he was attracted to members of the same sex. According to the Daily Mail, Ivar had even explained to Penny that he’d had a fling with a man while he was working in Venezuela.
But Penny admitted to the newspaper that Ivar’s attraction to men didn’t put her off marrying the aristocrat. She said, “I married [him] with a completely open heart and an open mind about sexuality. Ivar had told me he was bisexual before he proposed. I didn’t have any fears about it because I loved him, and love conquers all, doesn’t it?”
Penny continued, “What I hadn’t realized is how jealous I would feel down the line when he was finding men attractive and how, ultimately, that made me feel that I wasn’t good enough. When I started feeling lonely and [sad], I dulled those feelings with alcohol, and of course that made me more depressed.”
Despite their issues, the couple continued to soldier on with their marriage. However, deeper into their union, Ivar would quietly begin to explore his sexuality. And, interestingly, Penny would give him her blessing to do so. She told the Daily Mail, “I always asked for and demanded complete honesty from Ivar. Perhaps that is a self-destructive part of me, but I wanted to know. I gave him his freedom because I wanted him to be happy.”
Yet the marriage ultimately proved to be unsustainable, and Ivar and Penny split amicably in September 2010 before their divorce was made final in November 2011. The couple’s luxurious Bridwell Park home in Devon was initially put up for sale, too.
After taking a vacation, though, Ivar changed his mind and decided to turn Bridwell Park into an exclusive wedding venue that would also be available for corporate events. Then, in the years that followed, the lord seemingly came to terms with his sexuality – and this led to a stunning announcement in 2016.
In September of that year, Ivar made a big decision: he publicly announced to the world that he was gay. He was the first of the British royals’ extended family to come out publicly, and with his bombshell revelation he had broken centuries of tradition.
And alongside this revelation came the news that Ivar also had a steady boyfriend. While on vacation in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier in March 2015, he had met a Scottish airline cabin services director named James Coyle. According to the Daily Mail, James had introduced himself to the royal after mistakenly believing him to be a guide with whom he’d been skiing.
Yet although Ivar and James had encountered each other almost by mistake, the chemistry between them was instantaneous. The two subsequently swapped numbers and went on to meet up in London, where the Scotsman lived. Before that get-together, Ivar had also surprised his oblivious male companion by telling him about his distinguished family tree. But it seems as though the other man’s blue blood didn’t put James off at all.
You see, in June 2018 Ivar announced that he was going to tie the knot with James a few months later in September. And once again, he was a royal trailblazer. Barring no last-minute hitches, Ivar would be the first member of the extended British royal family to partake in a same-sex marriage.
Touchingly, the wedding announcement was also joined by the revelation that Ivar’s ex-wife, Penny, would be giving her husband away at the nuptials. As it turned out, the former Mrs. Mountbatten was fully supportive of his union with James.
Penny also revealed to the Daily Mail that it had been her three daughters’ idea for her to give their father away. Then, after telling the newspaper that she had liked James within ten seconds of meeting him, she continued, “It makes me feel quite emotional. I’m really very touched.” It seemed, then, that the girls and their mother had really taken Ivar’s husband-to-be into their hearts.
The landmark wedding itself took place in the chapel of the 100-acre Bridwell Park estate and was preceded by a welcome dinner for 30 guests. And Ivar’s Georgian house in Devon – which features an orangery, an ornamental lake and a chapel – was a suitably stately setting for him and James to exchange rings and their vows. The lord appeared delighted, too, with how his and his new husband’s big day had transpired.
“Well, we did it finally! It was an amazing day despite the miserable British weather,” Ivar wrote in a September 2018 Instagram post that also featured several photographs taken before, during and after the ceremony. The aristocrat went on to praise the “fabulous service” conducted by chief registrar for Devon, Trish Harrogate, whom he felt “set the perfect but lighthearted tone for what is a serious occasion.”
It turned out, too, that the newlywed had had a “best woman” in the form of Penny, who had emotionally walked Ivar up the aisle and given him away. But, unfortunately, no members of the British royal family were there to witness the touching moment. Indeed, although Edward and Sophie had been invited, they sadly couldn’t make it. Instead, the Earl and Countess of Wessex had sent their warmest regards to the happy couple. And of the two, Ivar said to the Daily Mail, “They adore James.”
For their part, Ivar and James dressed in green and dark blue velvet smoking jackets, respectively, with the Scotsman also wearing a fetching pair of tartan trousers in a clear nod to his roots. Then, following the ceremony, the 64 invited guests were serenaded by the Bristol Teachers Rock gospel choir. They also enjoyed some of Winston Churchill’s favorite champagne, Pol Roger.
Next up was a monkfish dinner in the orangery section of the estate, followed by the highly anticipated speeches. The guests then had the chance to put on their dancing shoes and boogie the night away. But there was no wedding cake for them to enjoy as such; instead, the couple had stacked up a selection of their preferred cheeses.
Neither were there any presents at the wedding, as in lieu of gifts the newlyweds had requested that their guests donate to the spinal injury charity Regain. And after the ceremony, Ivar took to Instagram to thank the choir and wedding photographer for their efforts. He also paid an emotional tribute to his daughters, who had seemingly taken their father’s decision to come out with exceptional grace. Ivar wrote, “Most importantly, a massive thanks to my three gorgeous girls for being so understanding and supportive. Without their support, this could never have happened!”
All in all, Ivar and James’ wedding was a clear sign of how society – as well as the royals – has moved forward in recent years. Indeed, their same-sex union would have been unthinkable in the not-too-distant past. And in another reflection of how times have changed, the happy couple told Tatler that they hadn’t received any hostile responses to their relationship in the year after they had tied the knot.
James suggested, too, that young people are predominantly responsible for the sea change in attitudes towards LGBTQ issues. Talking of how Ivar’s daughter Ella took the news of his intention to marry her father, James said that she was “very cool about it.” He continued, “All her friends go on weekends where they snog each other, boy or girl, then go back and tell each other. I think that generation [is] just totally unfazed by it all.”
But how did Ivar’s elderly mother, Janet, receive the couple’s news? Well, the lord told Tatler, “The older generation of my family have seen and done it all before. They were quite wayward in the 1940s. My aunt Nada was a lesbian. You’ve got to try everything once, that’s what my mother always said.”
Elsewhere, Ivar’s ex-wife, Penny, has since moved on with a new man. But have the aristocrat’s coming out and marriage been a good thing for the British royal family? On that, Ivar quipped to Tatler, “Well, you would hope so! But then they don’t really talk about it. I mean, the royals, they don’t communicate very well.”