Oxford students vote to remove Queen portrait because she ‘represents colonial history’

The President of Magdalen College said the portrait will be safely stored (Image: GETTY)

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Students at a University of Oxford college have agreed to remove a portrait of the Queen from their common room because she "represents recent colonial history," it is reported.

According to political website Guido Fawkes, a "large majority" of the Middle Common Room committee at Magdalen College agreed to remove the painting as one student said "patriotism and colonialism are not really separable".

Instead, students will explore putting up artworks by other influential and inspirational people.

The alleged decision sparked a backlash on Twitter, with the president of Magdalen College swiftly moving to distance the institution itself from the students involved.

Royalist opponents of the take-down told Guido Fawkes: "It is worth considering the reputational damage that this motion would have if passed, not only for our common room and College, but for Oxford students more generally.

A "large majority" of the Middle Common Room committee at Magdalen College agreed to remove the painting, reports said
(Image: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

"In an era where debates on no-platforming and cancel culture rage strong, effectively ‘cancelling’ the Queen and brandishing her a symbol of colonialism – so often used as a synonym for racism – sends a dire message that is sure to enrage.

"Moreover, it is culturally insensitive for a common room so heavily comprised of international students to seek to remove a national symbol from a British institution."

Opponents said the culture of all nations should be respected.

But one student said the removal of the portrait was not about "cancelling" the Queen, it was about making people feel welcome in the communal space.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson criticised students at the University of Oxford after the reports emerged.

The President of Magdalene College said 'The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don't represent the College.'
(Image: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Responding on Twitter, Mr Williamson 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 & respect around the world."

Barrister Dinah Rose, who was appointed president of Magdalen College last year, emphasised that the students were not representative of the college, but supported their right to "free speech and political debate".

In a series of tweets, she said: "Here are some facts about Magdalen College and HM the Queen.

"The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don't represent the College.

"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.

"Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR'S right to autonomy.

"Maybe they'll vote to put it up again, maybe they won't. Meanwhile, the photo will be safely stored."

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She finished: "Being a student is about more than studying. It's about exploring and debating ideas. It's sometimes about provoking the older generation.

"Looks like that isn't so hard to do these days."

On its website, Magdalen College Middle Common Room described itself as "one of the biggest graduate communities of the traditional Oxford Colleges".

It states: "Our graduates come from many different countries throughout the world, and have diverse interests, academic and otherwise.

"The MCR forms an integral part of the Magdalen graduate experience – not only do we organise social and cultural events for students so that we can make the utmost out of our time in Oxford, but we also provide a network of support for graduate life in representing the concerns of students to the College."

The Mirror contacted Magdalen College for further comment.

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