Is Queen canceled too? Oxford college students remove monarch's portrait over 'colonial past'

'OMG how narrow minded are these people they need to be educated about HM and what the commonwealth really means,' said a user

                            Is Queen canceled too? Oxford college students remove monarch's portrait over 'colonial past'
Queen Elizabeth II (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Students of Magdalen College at Oxford University have reportedly removed a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from a common room because they feel she symbolizes colonialism. Guido Fawkes, the rightwing website published by political blogger Paul Staines, first broke the news and stated that the portrait of the monarch was from 1952, which has been pulled down from the wall of the Middle Common Room after the majority of students -- many of them international -- voted in its favor.

Though fans of the royal family cautioned, “…it is worth considering the reputational damage that this motion would have if passed, not only for our common room and College, but for Oxford students more generally. In an era where debates on no-platforming and cancel culture rage strong, effectively ‘canceling’ the Queen and brandishing her a symbol of colonialism – so often used as a synonym for racism – sends a dire message that is sure to enrage. Moreover, it is culturally insensitive for a common room so heavily comprised of international students to seek to remove a national symbol from a British institution. The cultural heritage of all nations has the right to be respected, and a common room that does not do so cannot claim to be inclusive.”


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But eventually, the decision was taken in favor of the take-down because “for some students depictions of the monarch and the British monarchy represent recent colonial history.” The names of the students who voted for taking down the portrait and replacing it with “art by or of other influential and inspirational people” have not been revealed, but Fawkes claimed the motion was moved by Matthew Katzman. One unnamed student reportedly said, “This is about our communal space and making people feel welcome.”

Magdalen College at dusk - stock photo (Getty Images/ Jeffoto)

However, the recent episode has not been taken well by many including Secretary of State for Education of the United Kingdom, Gavin Williamson, who called it “absurd”. The 44-year-old tweeted, “Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd. She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK. During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity & respect around the world.” Another user wrote, “Its time something is done with these some called educated "academics" Remove all funding and see how these universities manage as private enterprises.” “OMG how narrow minded are these people they need to be educated about HM and what the commonwealth really means. There in education system I’m sure there must be enough teachers there to give them a lesson,” the third added.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson holds a virtual news conference at 10 Downing Street on February 24, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by John Sibley - WPA Pool/Getty Images)




Queen Elizabeth II delivers the Queen's Speech in the House of Lord's Chamber with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall seated (R) during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords on May 11, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

But Magdalen College president  Dinah Rose came out in defense of the graduate students as she tweeted, “Here are some facts about Magdalen College and HM the Queen. The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don't represent the College. A few years ago, in about 2013, they bought a print of a photo of the Queen to decorate their common room.”



She continued: “They recently voted to take it down. Both of these decisions are their own to take, not the College's. Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR'S right to autonomy. Maybe they'll vote to put it up again, maybe they won't. Meanwhile, the photo will be safely stored. Being a student is about more than studying. It's about exploring and debating ideas. It's sometimes about provoking the older generation. Looks like that isn’t so hard to do these days.”




“So if you are one of the people currently sending obscene and threatening messages to the College staff, you might consider pausing, and asking yourself whether that is really the best way to show your respect for the Queen. Or whether she'd be more likely to support the traditions of free debate and democratic decision-making that we are keeping alive at Magdalen,” Rose added.


A person agreed with her and mentioned, “Odd that Gavin Williamson seems to be against free speech of students now.” Another one added: “As a Magdalen grad, I was very pleased to see we have such a reasonable person heading the college today. (Why on Earth the education minister is commenting on this, I don't know. Hope this means he's finished his homework in case of another lockdown...).”



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