The first same-sex wedding in British Antarctic Territory took place over the weekend, on board the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
The happy couple exchanged vows on 24 April in a service on the helideck of RRS Sir David Attenborough, which was performed by the ship’s captain, Will Whatley.
Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter, both polar research ship crew members, have been together as a couple for 20 years having first met aboard the RFA Sir Percivale before being deployed in the Gulf war.
In attendance at the ceremony were 30 crew members from the UK ship, which flew rainbow flags from the vessel to mark the occasion.
“We’re both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory,” Eric said ahead of the ceremony. “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.”
While fiancée Stephen added, “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! We’ve even had the coordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings.”
Captain Whatley, who officiated the ceremony, said: “It was such an honour to be officiating Eric and Steve’s wedding.
“The RRS Sir David Attenborough is not only our place of work but also our home, and it is a privilege to help two integral members of our crew celebrate their special day.”
The nuptials have been registered by the British Antarctic Territory Government and the marriage will be valid in the UK.
The British Antarctic Survey tweeted well-wishes to the happy couple ahead of the service, saying: “We’re delighted to wish BAS’ Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter luck on their upcoming wedding which will be the first same-sex marriage in British Antarctic Territory. Their big day will mark a historic step for diversity and inclusion in polar science”
The pair now plan to hold a second celebration for family and friends later in the year.
Congratulations to the newlyweds! We love to see it!
We’re delighted to wish BAS’ Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter luck on their upcoming wedding which will be the first same-sex marriage in British Antarctic Territory. Their big day will mark a historic step for diversity and inclusion in polar science ❄️🏳️🌈https://t.co/eeFJ9cGK6w pic.twitter.com/qOr7Jn9lOR
— British Antarctic Survey (@BAS_News) April 21, 2022