The Queen’s Royal Collection contains over 250,000 pieces of artwork and all are set to be reviewed for colonial and slavery links amid pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement. The Royal Collection Trust, which looks after Her Majesty’s vast collection, has entrusted a senior member of staff to scour the collection and review its links to the slave trade and Britain’s colonial past.
One piece of art already updated is a painting of Sir Thomas Picton, often depicted as the ‘Hero of Waterloo’, adding references to his links to slavery. The public notes for Sir Thomas Picton were rewritten by staff and added to his portrait which hangs at the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle.
The Royal Collection includes public and private exhibits at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as well as at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Clarence House, Frogmore House and The Royal Mews.
Other portraits on display include that of Henry Dundas, who delayed the abolition of slavery and Sir Robert Peel, who was against the abolition of slavery.
A Royal Collection Trust spokesperson commented, “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.”
The Royal Collection is the largest private art collection in the world and is spread across 13 occupied and historic royal residences across the United Kingdom.
The notes on the portrait of Sir Thomas Picton 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.”
Although no artwork has been removed from any royal residence across the United Kingdom yet, a source commented, “There is an ongoing review.”