Queen Elizabeth II's Portrait Removed From Oxford University Over 'Colonial History'

Queen Elizabeth II is at the centre of a cancel culture debate after her photograph was taken down from an Oxford University common room due to colonial associations.

Magdalen College students voted in favor of a motion to remove the image from its Middle Common Room (MCR) for postgraduates.

The Guardian reported notes of the meeting stated: "For some students depictions of the monarch and the British monarchy represent recent colonial history."

The MCR president is currently American postgraduate Matthew Katzman, from Maryland, the Daily Mail reported.

The move sparked a backlash sufficient that it is being debated in the corridors of power and was described as "absurd" by Britain's education secretary Gavin Williamson.

He 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."

However, Katzman told the Daily Mail online "no stance was taken on the Queen or the Royal Family" but the MCR wanted to create a "neutral place for all members."

Queen Elizabeth and Magdalen College, Oxford
The photograph of Queen Elizabeth II was reportedly a likeness of this one from the Bettmann Archive. It was removed from the Middle Common Room of Magdalen College (right), part of Oxford University. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images/Catherine Ivill/Getty Images/Getty Images

He said: "The action was taken after a discussion of the purpose of such a space, and it was decided that the room should be a welcoming, neutral place for all members regardless of background, demographic, or views.

"The Royal Family is on display in many areas of the college, and it was ultimately agreed that it was an unnecessary addition to the common room.

"The views of the MCR do not reflect the views of Magdalen College, and the aesthetic decisions made by the voting members of its committee do not equate to a statement on the Queen.

"Indeed, no stance was taken on the Queen or the Royal Family—the conclusion was simply that there were better places for this print to be hung."

He said the portrait was now being "stored securely."

Recent efforts by the U.K. Government to promote free speech in universities have made the drama a live political issue.

Last month, it proposed new legislation which would allow academics, students or visiting speakers to seek compensation if they suffered loss from a university policy, The Guardian reported.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC: "Well, this really is student union politics, and I'm not going to get involved in that—it's their decision.

"I have a portrait of the Queen on my office wall in my Government department and I'm proud to do so."

The argument comes after revelations Buckingham Palace had a policy of not hiring "coloured immigrants or foreigners" to office jobs until at least 1968.

The Guardian unearthed a Home Office from civil servant TG Weiler from the time describing a meeting with the queen's most senior financial adviser, Lord Tryon.

He said Tryon described three types of jobs at the palace: "(a) Senior posts, which were not filled by advertising or by any overt system of appointment and which would presumably be accepted as outside the scope of the bill; (b) clerical and other office posts, to which it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners; and (c) ordinary domestic posts for which coloured applicants were freely considered, but which would in any event be covered by the proposed general exemption for domestic employment."

Dinah Rose, president of Magdalen College, Oxford, wrote on Twitter: "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.

"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.

"So if you are one of the people currently sending obscene and threatening messages to the College staff, you might consider pausing, and asking yourself whether that is really the best way to show your respect for the Queen."