Union denies students demanded removal of 'colonial' Queen Victoria statue
UPDATE: Royal Holloway's Student Union has issued a statement saying that the existence of a #Victoriamustfall campaign is "completely untrue", with the national media twisting and exaggerating the message of an inclusivity campaign on campus, which merely expressed solidarity with #Rhodesmustfall.
"The campaign does not call for the removal of the statue of Queen Victoria in Founder’s North Quad, and nor has any hashtag been coined as the slogan for any such campaign," said a statement on its website.
Grace Almond, who was featured as the mouthpiece of the purported statue-toppling drive, has said that she has been "misquoted," and the Independent, which interviewed her, has taken down the relevant article.
Activists at Royal Holloway, University of London, are organizing a ‘Mass March for Decolonization’ on Wednesday, to be held in Oxford alongside students there who have campaigned for the removal of a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes.
Royal Holloway students want to see the statue of Queen Victoria removed because the monarch sanctioned colonial exploits throughout the world, but particularly in southern Africa, where she vested sovereign-like powers in the British South African Company, led by Rhodes.
Activist Grace Almond, of the university’s women of color feminism society, said the campaign revealed how far racism is ingrained in the college.
“That some white students are so defensive over a statue of Queen Victoria, someone who sanctioned so many colonial exploits, shows you just how far white supremacy and racism is ingrained in our university.
“Queen Victoria was implicitly involved in colonial exploits. She gave Cecil Rhodes a Royal Charter to lead an imperial conquest in southern Africa. If she hadn’t have given him this charter, he would not have been able to further colonization of that region of the continent on behalf of the monarchy,” she added.
In January, some 245 students voted to remove the statue of Rhodes, after whom the former country of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was named, from the Oxford University grounds. 212 voted against.
The Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) campaign is part of a wider ‘decolonization’ movement at the prestigious institution, which has served as a training ground for the British establishment for centuries.
RMF campaigner Ntokozo Qwabe argued for the removal of the statues, arguing the effigy of Rhodes was symptomatic of a broader issue.
“The statue is an emblem,” he said.
“We find it deplorable that only 24 black British students were accepted last year into undergraduate body. It’s not just about the statue.”