British Antarctic Territory to host its first same-sex wedding

Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter, stewards on the RRS Sir David Attenborough, will tie the knot after 20 years together.

24 April 2022

Two crew members from the RRS Sir David Attenborough are to become the first same-sex couple to marry in the British Antarctic Territory.

Stewards Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter, who have been together for 20 years, will be married by Will Whatley, the ship’s captain, at the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station.

The exact date will depend on the weather but the ceremony is expected to take place on Monday.

Mr Carpenter said: “Antarctica is such an incredible place.

“We have been together for 20 years but now we’ve both been to Antarctica together, it felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot.”

The pair are both experienced seafarers and have travelled the world together on a variety of ships.

Mr Bourne has spent the last three years working for BAS and the pair decided Antarctica would make the perfect venue for their nuptials after Mr Carpenter joined the ship’s crew.

RRS Sir David Attenborough during ice trials during its maiden voyage to Antarctica
The couple are stewards on the RRS Sir David Attenborough (BAS/PA)

“We’ve even had the co-ordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings,” Mr Carpenter said.

The ceremony will be attended by the 30 crew of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, followed by a reception with around 100 staff from the research station.

Food will be prepared by the station’s chef and the facility’s resident band will provide the music.

Mr Bourne said: “We’re both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory.

“BAS is such a welcoming and accepting employer, and we feel very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together.”

The wedding will be registered with the British Antarctic Territory Government, which is based in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and will be valid in the UK.

The couple will hold a second celebration for family and friends later in the year, in the warmer climes of Spain.

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