A portrait of the Queen representing ‘colonial history’ has been removed from Oxford University

The portrait of the Queen has been removed from a common room at Oxford University’s Magdalen College

The Queen
(Image credit: Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Students at the University of Oxford have voted for a portrait of the Queen to be removed from a common room at Magdalen College, because of the “recent colonial history” it represents. 

It was decided by graduate students of Oxford’s Magdalen College Middle Common Room committee that a portrait depicting a 1952 photograph of the Queen was to be removed from the walls of their main common room. 

The decision has been made in order to “neutralize” the student space, ridding it of the “recent colonial history” the portrait represents, in order to make it a “welcoming” place for all. 

The imagery, which shows the monarch in her mid 20s wearing her crown and a blue sash, is set to be put into storage, having been bought by the committee back in 2013 to hang in the common room.

Explaining the decision, 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 choice to remove what the committee feels is a symbol of colonialism comes after calls for statues to be taken down across the UK and US, in a bid to support the Black Lives Matter movement with anti-racist actions. 

The Queen

(Image credit: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images))

The Guido Fawkes website reports that the committee explained that “patriotism and colonialism” are “not separable” during a discussion about taking the portrait down. 

“The Queen represents an institution responsible for much of colonialism throughout history and the modern era, and these depictions cause some students discomfort,” minutes from the committee meeting go on to say. 

The decision has sparked a response from the UK government, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson branding the move “absurd”. 

He responded to say that the Queen is 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 wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Magdalen College President, barrister Dinah Rose, has taken to social media in support of the students.

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

"Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR’S right to autonomy,” she tweeted. 

"Being a student is about more than studying. It’s about exploring and debating ideas. It’s sometimes about provoking the older generation.”

Caitlin Elliott
News Editor

Caitlin is News Editor for woman&home, covering all things royal, celeb, fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Caitlin started on local papers and titles such as Cosmopolitan, Now, Reveal and Take a Break while studying for her Multimedia Journalism degree. She also worked in Fashion PR as a Press Assistant for Arcadia's Topshop before becoming a part of the Now team. Caitlin went on to add the likes of Woman, GoodtoKnow, WhatToWatch and woman&home to her writing repertoire before moving on to her current role.