Students from Oxford (United Kingdom) caused a controversy on Wednesday by removing a portrait of Queen Elisabeth II from a common room of the university. The young people wanted to denounce colonialism with this symbolic gesture.
The committee of the Middle Common Room (MCR), an association of postgraduate students that manages the room at Magdalen College, voted in favor of removing this portrait. “For some students, the representations of the monarch and the British monarchy symbolize recent colonial history”, according to the report of a meeting of this committee relayed by The Times.
👑🇬🇧SHOCKING! – Scandal in UK after Oxford University students removed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from common room, citing colonialism. A decision described as “absurd” by the British Minister of Education (AFP). pic.twitter.com/64Iq5duZcf
– 🌐The Globe (@LeGlobe_info) June 9, 2021
“How dare they! “
UK Education Minister Gavin Williamson called the students’ decision “absurd”. Elisabeth II is “the head of state and symbolizes what is best in the United Kingdom,” the minister said on Twitter on Tuesday evening. “During her long reign she worked tirelessly to promote the British values of tolerance, openness and respect in the world. “
The case made the headlines of many media. “How dare they! “, as The Daily Express. The queen has become “the most recent victim of” cancel culture “”, for her part, lamented the conservative daily The Telegraph.
The right of students to debate
This action was decided “after a discussion about the purpose of such a space,” MCR president Matthew Katzman told the Mail Online. “It was decided that the room should be a welcoming and neutral place for all members. […] No position was taken on the Queen or the Royal Family – the conclusion was simply that there were better places to hang this image. “
The president of Magdalen College said the students were not representative of this reputable college, established over 550 years ago. However, she defended their right to “freedom of expression and political debate”. “Being a student means more than studying. It’s about exploring and debating different ideas. Sometimes that is to provoke the older generation, ”she tweeted. “Looks like it’s not that hard to do these days. “