Queen Elizabeth II Joins Cultural Boycott of Russian State

Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Collection has joined in the cultural boycott of the Russian state by suspending loans to a Kremlin exhibition.

This action follows Russia's invasion of Ukraine which has drawn condemnation and sanctions from the West.

The exhibition staged by the Kremlin Museums titled The Duel: From Trial by Combat to a Noble Crime had been due to display three swords from the Queen's collection. Permission for these loans has been withdrawn following Russia's military action.

Queen Elizabeth II Lead
Queen Elizabeth II has postponed loans to the Kremlin Museums exhibition following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Photographed here at the opening of the Scottish parliament October 2, 2021. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A spokesperson for the Royal Collection told Newsweek that the "decision to postpone a loan of three swords from the Royal Collection to the Kremlin Museums in Moscow was made in mid-February".

The Royal Armouries, a separate entity from the Royal Collection, had also loaned six objects to the Russian exhibition which it has since recalled. The armouries collection contains many pieces of royal arms and armor and therefore a representative of the Queen sits on its board of trustees.

In a statement released to The Guardian, the Royal Armouries said:

"Due to the escalation of the situation in Ukraine, the Royal Armouries recalled the loan items. This mirrors the process that other major European collections have gone through regarding the items from their collections that are also on loan as part of this exhibition,"

Other institutions across Europe have also rescinded loan offers to the Kremlin Museums and the planned exhibition, in which many would have featured, has since been postponed.

A statement from the Kremlin Museums read: "The core of the project consists of exhibits from European museums, which were forced to withdraw them before the time due to the geopolitical situation. The museums are currently working on making the exhibition happen without European participation and express their sincere thanks to the Russian museum community for offering assistance in the current difficult circumstances."

The decision to withhold exhibition loans from Russian museums forms part of a larger sequence of cultural boycotting in the wake of far-reaching sanctions enforced by European governments.

The Royal Armouries museum in Leeds has more than 4,500 objects on display, including King Henry VIII's armor made for the grand tournament known as the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520, and full-size elephant armor from the late 16th century. The Royal Collection has extensive holdings of swords and armor from around the world dating back centuries.

Members of the British royal family have been vocal in their condemnation of Russian aggression towards Ukraine and in their support of the Ukrainian people.

Prince Charles called the "truly terrible aggression by Russia" an "attack on democracy".

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have made repeated statements of support for the Ukrainian people, first in a statement released through their charity Archewell and then again during an acceptance speech at the NAACP Image Awards last month.

Royal Armouries Tower of London
Loans from both the Royal Collection and the Royal Armouries will no longer be sent to the Kremlin Museums exhibition in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The Royal Armouries collection is partially housed at the Tower of London, photographed, July 9, 2013. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Queen is bound by her duty as a constitutional monarch to remain apolitical but she has made gestures of humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people. Most explicitly it was revealed that the Queen made a "generous" donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal . A statement on the Committee's Twitter account read:

"Many thanks to Her Majesty The Queen for continuing to support the Disaster Emergency Committee and for making a generous donation to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal."

In a sartorial showing of support, the Queen was also photographed meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in front of a large floral display of blue hydrangeas and yellow tulips - the colors of the Ukrainian flag. This example was followed by Kate Middleton who wore a similar shade of blue on a visit to humanitarian volunteers at the Ukrainian Cultural Institute in London with Prince William.

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