The Queen refuses to give swords to Russia

The Queen has joined the cultural boycott of Russia by refusing to loan swords to Russia destined for an exhibition in Moscow.

Thewar in Ukraine has sparked a widespreadcultural boycott of Russia, such as the firing of operatic Soprano Anna Netrebko and distinguished conductor Valery Gergiev, and the cancellation of Russia's participation in this year's Venice Biennale.

Now, the Queen’s official art collection has become involved by withdrawing permission to loan three swords to the Kremlin Museums in Moscow for an exhibition.

The Royal Collection had initially agreed to loan the weapons for an exhibition about duelling, sponsored by the Russian oligarch and former fencer Alisher Usmanov. Earlier this month, he had sanctions imposed upon him by the UK, EU, and US due his connection to Vladimir Putin.

The Guardian has reported that the Royal Collection withdrew permission for the loan while over 100,000 Russian troops gathered on Ukraine’s borders prior to the invasion on 24 February.

A spokesperson for the Queen’s Collection said:

A decision to postpone a loan of three swords from the Royal Collection to the Kremlin Museums in Moscow was made in mid-February.

European institutions withdraw from Moscow

An archived online press release by the Kremlin Museums had listed the Queen and the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds as key lendersto the exhibition.

The swords date back to the early 17th century, including one that apparently belonged to King Charles I. The Queen’s swords were going to be displayed in the exhibition as examples of weapons used in historic duels.

The Queen’s collection was among a number of European institutions to withdraw from the Moscow exhibition, forcing it to be delayed.

The Queen refuses to give swords to Russia SOPA Images / Getty Images

The exhibition, entitled The Duel: from Trial by Combat to a Noble Crime, had been scheduled to begin on 4 March but the Kremlin Museums announced an indefinite postponement. It said:

The core of the project consists of exhibits from European museums, which were forced to withdraw them before the time due to the geopolitical situation.
The Moscow Kremlin Museums are currently working on making the exhibition happen without European participation, and express their sincere thanks to the Russian museum community for offering assistance in the current difficult circumstances.

The power of boycotts and a gesture of solidarity

An expert on the power of cultural boycotts from the University of Johannesburg, Jane Duncan, said that boycotts can be 'highly effective, because they can have a huge psychological impact.'

Russia over a number of centuries now has prided itself on its intellectual, artistic and sporting achievements. It’s become part and parcel of its identity and its projection of soft power globally.

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While the Queen has yet to speak publicly about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she has made a small gesture that reveals her feelings on the subject.

During a meeting with Canadian president Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle last week, there was a vase full of blue and yellow flowers—the colours of the Ukrainian flag—on display.

This has been seen by many as a deliberate sign of the Queen's support for the Ukrainian people.

It has also been reported that the Queen had made a ‘generous donation’ to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

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