The Journal | #Fortnums

Proud to be queens' grocer: Neil Munro 'Bunny' Roger

As London celebrates the LGBTQ+ community today, we look back on war hero, drag queen, and our former couturier Bunny Roger

We’ve welcomed several queens through our doors throughout our three centuries of history, but none quite like Neil Munro ‘Bunny’ Roger. Our couturier in the 1950s, Bunny was beloved by the Fortnum’s family, cutting an impeccably tailored figure in a neo-Edwardian style that stopped many a passer-by in their tracks as he walked down Piccadilly. After all, it wasn't often you saw a man in a double-breasted frockcoat, tight-fitting high-waisted trousers, curly brimmed bowler hat, and wearing make-up back then. Once when getting out of a cab and reapplying his make-up, the driver remarked that he'd 'dropped his pearls.' 'Never with tweed,' Bunny retorted.

Throughout his life he was famed for throwing parties so outrageous they landed pearl-clutching double page spreads in the newspapers, including a New Year's Eve Fetish Ball where half the guests were stiff-collared aristocracy, the other dressed in rubber. As the years went on, he wasn't going to do anything so mundane as wear cardigans: for his 80th birthday, he wore a catsuit made of flame-coloured sequins and a cape of bright orange organza, and casually greeted his guests from behind a wall of fire. Clearly his sense of theatre - and penchant for the ridiculous - made him a perfect fit at Fortnum's.

'Clearly his sense of theatre - and penchant for the ridiculous - made him a perfect fit at Fortnum's.'

Bunny was also a noted war hero. Later describing himself marching out on the frontline with heavily rouged cheeks, a mauve silk scarf, with a copy of Vogue stuffed in his jacket, he was exceptionally courageous during the Second World War – going back under fire to pull a wounded officer from a blaze, and decorated for charging a machine gun post at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. When asked about the oncoming advancement of the Nazis by a sergeant, he responded: ‘When in doubt, powder heavily.' After the war's conclusion, he even found the time to invent the Capri trouser.

As millions pour onto the streets of London today to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and its right to live freely – this year’s Pride marking 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York City – we fondly remember Bunny, who so fearlessly lived his life as his authentic self and didn’t give much of a jot what anyone thought about it.

Happy Pride to one and all.

Bunny Roger