Queen's portrait removed from Oxford University common room following vote
Oxford University students have voted to remove a portrait of Queen Elizabeth from their common room.
Members of Magdalen College Middle Common Room voted ten to two in favour of removing the painting, calling it a symbol of “recent colonial history”.
The motion was apparently put forward over fears students could feel excluded by the portrait. The minutes from Monday’s meeting said: “For some students, depictions of the monarch and the British monarchy represent recent colonial history”.
Contrasting views of two anonymous members were made public, with one saying: “effectively ‘cancelling’ the Queen” sent out a “dire message that is sure to enrage”. While the other disputed that claim saying it is simply about “making people feel welcome”. They said: “We are not capable of cancelling the Queen. This is about our communal space and making people feel welcome.”
Barrister Dinah Rose, who became president of Magdalen College in 2020, insisted the students had the right to “free speech and political debate”, but added that their views were not representative of the college in general.
The removal of the picture has already been criticised by the UK government, with education secretary Gavin Williamson calling the decision “simply absurd”.
Taking to Twitter, he said: “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 and respect around the world.”
While, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick called the move “student union politics” which we shouldn’t “waste too much time on”.
He said: “I have a portrait of the Queen on my office wall in my government department and I’m proud to do so. I wouldn’t want anyone to disrespect her out of ignorance in this way but I don’t think that we should waste too much time on student union politics.”