Oxford College Goes 'Woke,' Votes to Remove Painting of the Queen
British college claims students feel 'unwelcome' due to 'recent colonial history'
One of Britain's top colleges has voted to go "woke" by removing a painting of the Queen over claims the British monarch makes students feel "unwelcome" because the Royal Family "represents recent colonial history."
The UK Education Secretary has slammed the canceling of the Queen by Oxford students as "absurd."
"Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd," Gavin Williamson tweeted.
"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," he noted.
Members of the Middle Common Room (MCR) at Magdalen College - which is made up of graduates - passed the measure by a substantial majority.
During the vote, one student argued that "patriotism and colonialism are not really separable," according to The Daily Mail.
Another claimed the move "is about our communal space and making people feel welcome.”
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 Royal Family to a vote.
The MCR insisted it 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."
The decision sparked an immediate backlash, with the president of Magdalen College swiftly moving to distance the institution itself from the students involved.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick called the row over Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen "student union politics" but said he was "proud" to have a portrait of the monarch in his office.
"Well, this really is student union politics, and I'm not going to get involved in that - it's their decision," he told BBC Breakfast.
"I have a portrait of the Queen on my office wall in my Government department and I'm proud to do so."
Asked about Gavin Williamson's comments, Mr. Jenrick said: "I'm a huge fan and supporter of Her Majesty the Queen, I think we are incredibly lucky to live in a country with a head of state of her stature.
"I wouldn't want anyone to disrespect her out of ignorance in this way but I don't think that we should waste too much time on student union politics."
Meanwhile, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has said he "does not support" the idea of removing a portrait of the Queen from a common room at Oxford University after reports said a college committee voted to take it down due to concerns over its colonial links.
"These kind of gestures are getting a bit out of hand," he told Nick Ferrari on LBC.
"We should always respect the Queen but particularly now given things that have happened in the last few months.
"I don't support that.
"Let's get a sense of proportion and a bit of respect.
"People can air their views but those kind of gestures are divisive actually - they just divide people, and I don't think they achieve much, to be honest."
Another unnamed royalist opponent said: "In an era where debates on no-platforming and cancel culture rage strong, effectively 'canceling' the Queen and brandishing her as 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.
"The cultural heritage of all nations has the right to be respected, and a common room that does not do so cannot claim to be inclusive."
Twitter user Samantha Smith said: "The Queen was a pioneer of anti-racism in an era of widespread segregation and apartheid.
"Imagine trying to cancel the reigning monarch."
Magdalen College students voted to take down a portrait of the Queen from their common room because she represents “colonialism”.— Samantha Smith (@SamanthaTaghoy) June 8, 2021
The Queen was a pioneer of anti-racism in an era of widespread segregation and apartheid.
Imagine trying to cancel the reigning monarch.
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."
During her reign, the Queen has overseen the growth of the Commonwealth - an organization that aims to foster international cooperation and trade links between people all over the world.
It has brought together dozens of countries, once under British rule, to be a unified, major global force for change.
And in response to Harry and Meghan's explosive recent claims of institutionalized racism, the Queen is to appoint a diversity tsar to modernize the Monarchy.
The row at Magdalen comes after another university has apologized for sending staff a photograph of Prince Philip opening its library after it sparked complaints about the Duke's "history of racist and sexist comments."
Left-wingers working at King's College London reacted angrily to an email bulletin they received after the Duke's death in April, featuring a photograph of him opening the university's Maughan Library with the Queen in 2002.
Following weeks of simmering tensions, Joleen Clarke, the associate director at King's College libraries, sent out an extraordinary apology for the "harm" caused by including the photo in her email.
"The picture was included as a historical reference point following his death," she wrote last month.
"The inclusion of the picture was not intended to commemorate him.
"Through feedback and subsequent conversations, we have come to realize the harm that this caused members of our community, because of his history of racist and sexist comments.
"We are sorry to have caused this harm."
Free speech campaigners and MPs condemned the apology, labeling it the latest example of a "cancel culture" by woke activists on university campuses.
Royal experts insisted it was wrong to accuse the prince of being racist or sexist.