Students from one of the colleges at Oxford University in the United Kingdom voted that they no longer wanted the picture of Queen Elizabeth II in the common room. They consider her portrait a “symbol of colonial history,” so they took it down. College management has distanced itself from the move, saying that it was an initiative of the students, not the school. Meanwhile, the British minister of education called the decision “simply absurd.”
Graduate students belonging to the Magdalen College removed the portrait from the wall of their common room, as they wanted the room to look more welcoming, according to the BBC.
For some students, the depiction of the queen and the British monarchy is an example of recent colonial history. They first voted on the idea. Ten people were eventually in favor of removing the painting, two were against and five abstained.
One of the members of the Magdalen College Middle Common Room (MCR) committee, referring to the phenomenon of the so-called “cancel culture,” stated that the others were essentially “canceling the queen” and sending a message that would certainly upset the public. However, another stressed that as students, “they are not capable of canceling the Queen.“
“This is about our communal space and making people feel welcome,“ the student said.
The Sky News portal reported that members of the group are now looking for a new image, ideally with another “influential and inspiring” personality. Dinah Rose, the director of the dormitory, emphasized that this was a student decision and that official management had nothing to do with it.
However, according to her, these young people have the right to freedom of speech and political debate.
“A few years ago, in about 2013, they bought a print of a photo of the Queen to decorate their common room. They recently voted to take it down. Both of these decisions are their own to take, not the college’s,“ she wrote on Twitter, adding that the portrait will now be in the warehouse, and if the students want, they may pull it out again.
The British Education Minister Gavin Williamson called the move absurd. “The Queen 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,“ he stated.
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
— Gavin Williamson (@GavinWilliamson) June 8, 2021
Title image: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, foreground, accompanied by Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness, background center, and Minister of Justice and Equality Gov of Ireland Frances Fitzgerald, second right, react, as the Queen unveils a portrait of herself by artist Colin Davidson, during a Co-operation Ireland reception at Crosby Hall in London, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Jeff Spicer/Pool Photo via AP)