An American graduate student has succeeded in getting the Queen’s portrait removed from Magdalen College’s Middle Common Room at Oxford University.

Guido Fawkes was the first to break the story on Tuesday, June 8, 2021:

The story made the Daily Mail‘s front page the following day:

The only detail Guido missed is the fact that the student is American. The Mail‘s article has photographs of the instigator and states (emphases mine):

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’. 

The decision sparked an immediate backlash, with the president of Magdalen College swiftly moving to distance the institution itself from the students involved. It comes amid growing concern at the rise of intolerance and ‘cancel culture’ at British universities. 

The president of Magdalen College explained the relationship of the Middle Common Room to the College:

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.’

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.’ 

Matthew Katzman should read British history. The Queen — Britain’s head of state — is far from being a colonialist:

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’

Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union and himself an Oxford graduate, said: ‘The students are perfectly within their rights to remove this painting from their common room, but it is baffling that they associate the Queen with colonialism.

‘I don’t think these students realise how loved the Queen is by the people of the Commonwealth. It is only woke British students who feel offended by it.’ 

A commenter on Guido Fawkes’s post pointed out:

This is only the middle common room, though, not the undergraduates, still less “the college”. Middle common rooms consist of students drawn from many countries, the greater part of them just in Oxford for a year to do a Masters. A lot of them will be American. Maybe only 20% will be British.

Someone replied to that comment:

That makes it worse. Showing disdain for your host country.

I couldn’t agree more. This is disgusting and discourteous, especially as the Queen is still grieving the loss of her husband.