Students at Oxford’s Magdalen College have voted to take down a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from their graduates’ middle common room because she “represents recent colonial history“.
A vote by the student committee, separate from those running the college, saw a majority in favour of removing the portrait in order to keep the common room neutral and avoid making anyone feel ‘unwelcome’.
It is understood the portrait will now be put in storage with students exploring alternatives such as “art by of of other influential and inspirational people” to fill the void.
The middle common room (MCR) president Matthew Katzman told The Telegraph: “It has been taken down. It was decided to leave the common room neutral. That was what this was about.
“The college will have plenty of depictions of various things, but the common room is meant to be a space for all to feel welcome.”
The decision to cancel the Queen was met with fierce criticism from the public and government ministers alike.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson spoke out against the move on Tuesday, declaring it “simply absurd”.
“She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK,” Williamson said. “During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity and respect around the world,” he added.
Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group of Conservative MPs, said: “The sad thing is that you would think that the people of Magdalen College Oxford are reasonably bright, and this decision would suggest that they are not.
“The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth and respected across the world as such, and to try to suggest anything otherwise is a dishonest distortion. The people involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”
TalkRadio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer labelled the students “ridiculous posturing fools” whilst GB News journalist Colin Brazier asked: “I wonder if it might be time to de-fund some Oxford colleges?”
Magdalen College’s President, Dinah Rose QC insisted the “MCR is an organisation of graduate students who have their own common room. The way they choose to decorate that room is a matter for them.
“Magdalen believes strongly in freedom of speech, and supports the right of its students to conduct their affairs in accordance with their own democratic processes.”