Oxford students took down a portrait of Elizabeth II denouncing the fact that it represented “recent colonial history”. British Education Minister Gavin Williamson said the students’ decision was “absurd”.
Students at prestigious Oxford University in England sparked controversy on June 9 by removing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from a common room citing colonialism, a move the minister called “absurd” of British Education.
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
Members of the Middle Common Room (MCR) committee of Magdalen College, an association of postgraduate students, voted in favor of removing this portrait because “for some students, representations of the monarch and the British monarchy represent recent colonial history ”, reports on 9 June the Times, citing the minutes of a meeting of this committee.
A biased reading of British history?
A somewhat biased reading of British history in this area, as recalls Alan Sked, professor emeritus of international history at the London School of Economics. The latter was indignant on social networks by recalling that “The queen has precisely presided over British decolonization!”.
The Queen’s portrait was removed from the Middle Common Room of Magdalen College, Oxford after a vote by its MCR Committee, which held her to be a symbol of colonialism. As a former MCR President of Merton, Oxford’s oldest college, I am appalled. She presided over decolonization!
– Alan Sked (@profsked) June 8, 2021
Education Minister Gavin Williamson also called the students’ decision “absurd”. This revives the debate on racism and colonialism in the United Kingdom, a country driven to introspection since the demonstrations of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“[Elizabeth II] is the head of state and symbolizes the best in the UK. During her long reign, she worked tirelessly to promote the British values of tolerance, openness and respect in the world, ”Gavin Williamson wrote on Twitter on the evening of June 8.
This affair made the headlines of the press on June 9.
“How dare they!” the conservative tabloid is indignant The Daily express with reference to students. The Queen has become “the most recent victim of the”cancel culture” [culture de l’annulation]», Deplores the conservative daily The Telegraph.
MCR chairman Matthew Katzman told the Daily Mail Online that this action “was taken after a discussion about the purpose of such a space, and it was decided that the room should be a welcoming and neutral place for all. the 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,” he added.
An initiative supported by management
The president of Magdalen College said the students were not representative of the reputed 550-year-old college but defended their right to “freedom of speech 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, before adding,“ Looks like it’s not that hard to do these days. ”