Queen’s 250,000-strong art collection reviewed for colonial and slave links


PALACE aides are reviewing hundreds of thousands of artworks in the Queen’s collection for colonial and slave links amid Black Lives Matters pressure.

A painting of Sir Thomas Picton – known as the Hero of Waterloo – is the first to have been updated adding a reference his links to slavery.

The Royal Collection Trust is scouring its 250,000 art collection, which includes public and private exhibits at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

The trust has asked a senior member of staff to review the artwork which is the largest collection in the world.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaigners have called for toppling of historical statues and slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol was torn down and thrown into the water. 

Portraits on display likely to anger BLM include Henry Dundas who delayed the abolition of slavery, Sir Robert Peel who was anti-abolition, Robert Clive of India and slave owner William Beckford.

Staff have rewritten the public notes for a painting of Sir Thomas Picton which is hanging at the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. 

A trust spokesman said: “In terms of other records, work is underway within our curatorial teams to improve and update them, which will happen in the coming weeks and months”

Picton was the “Hero of Waterloo” and was the highest ranking officer to die in the battle after a bayonet charge.

He was buried at St Paul’s Cathedral alongside the Duke of Wellington but reputation tarnished by a brutal treatment of slaves when Governor of Trinidad.

Picton’s entry was changed at Windsor Castle last month both online and on display.

It now reads: “Picton’s punitive administration of Trinidad and his subjects’ enforced adherence to strict penal codes were the subject of contemporary controversy in Britain and the West Indies. He was brought to trial in London in 1806, accused of carrying out torturous practices in jails under his jurisdiction. He was later partially exonerated, on the grounds that while he had committed illegal acts not befitting his role as military governor, the right to torture prisoners was recognised under the Spanish laws still enforced at the time.”

No art has been removed from display at any of the royal collections.

But a spokesman added: “There is an ongoing review.”

The Royal Collection is the largest private art collection in the world.

It is spread across 13 occupied and historic royal residences in the United Kingdom and owned by The Queen.

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