The Education Secretary today slammed the ‘absurd’ cancelling of the Queen by Oxford students, who voted to take down an ‘unwelcoming’ portrait of the monarch from the graduates’ common room because ‘she represents recent colonial history’.
Members of the Middle Common Room (MCR) at Magdalen College passed the measure by a substantial majority, with one student commenting that ‘patriotism and colonialism are not really separable’.
Expressing his outrage, Gavin Williamson tweeted: ‘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 and respect around the world.’
Oxford’s vice-chancellor Lord Patten also weighed in, calling the decision ‘offensive and obnoxiously ignorant’.
The committee will now explore replacing the portrait with ‘art by or of other influential and inspirational people’ and subject any future depictions of the to a vote, according to committee minutes that have not been published.
The motion was brought forward by MCR President Matthew Katzman, a 25-year-old lecturer in computer science who studied at Stanford University and is from Maryland in the USA.
Mr Katzman, the son of top lawyer Scott Katzman, 60, claimed the move did not ‘equate to a statement on the Queen’ but said the painting was being taken down to create ‘a welcoming, neutral place for all members regardless of background, demographic, or views’.