Europe

Woke warriors demand 2,500 items in Queen’s art collection be checked for slavery links

Camilla ensures she doesn't clash clothes with the Queen

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The huge art collection, which includes pieces dating back up to 500 years to the reign of King Henry VII, is being woke-tested in a move that could result in the rewriting of the descriptions and captions of many of the pieces. The initiative aims to include local place names in empire-related photos and note any artwork subjects’ link to the slave trade.

The art is displayed at 13 palaces and is curated by the Royal Collection Trust, in its annual report the organisation confirmed it was updating the “terminology” around certain artworks.

The report read: “Curators continued work to update terminology relating to race, enslavement, empire and disability, reviewing a total of 2,500 object records on the Collections Management System over the year.”

Many of the paintings in the collection are of figures with links to the slave trade.

For example, a painting of Sir Thomas Picton – known as the Hero of Waterloo – had its description rewritten to include his links to the slave trade.

Additionally, British Empire-themed photographs are being updated with local place names to avoid causing offence. This includes photos from Edward Prince of Wales’ 1921 India tour and King George V’s world tour in 1881.

Curators also added disclaimers to some photos explaining that more research is needed to identify people in the pictures and strived to name other individuals.

Speaking to The Sun, a source reportedly said: “In many cases, it is as simple as changing a caption to add names of those involved and to changing colonial place names to local ones.

“But it is definitely done with one eye on how attitudes have been changing in recent years.”

Other portraits in the collection are likely to offend the woke brigade. For example, former prime minister Sir Robert Peele’s family made their money of the cotton trade – a trade linked to slavery in the American South.

Indeed, Sir Robert Peele made the list of a figure “related to slavery” in the National Gallery last year.

The move comes amid wider “culture wars” which have seen massive polarization of society surrounding ideas like political correctness and wokeness.

In June 2020, a group of protesters defaced and toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston before dumping it into the Bristol harbour.

More recently, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s tour to the Caribbean was marred with protests and branded “tone-deaf” with “colonial undertones”.

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During the tour, Prince William apologised for the UK’s role in the slave trade and said that it never should have happened.

Royal Households have begun to publish figures which show what percentage of their staff hails from an ethnic minority background.

The most recent figures show Buckingham Palace at 9.6 percent, while 10.6 per cent of Prince Charles and Camilla’s staff hails from an ethnic minority background.

Prince William and Kate’s household had the highest percentage of ethnic minority workers at 13.6 percent.

Buckingham Palace aims to hit a 10 percent diversity target by the end of this year.

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