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Clad in a pink houscoat and fluffy slippers, one foot stretched out on a pouffe, Queen Elizabeth sat slouched in an armchair with a glossy magazine open on her lap showing the face of a triumphantly smiling Princess Diana. The Queen’s face, on the other hand, expressed concern, even alarm, for she was not alone in her parlour. Behind the armchair loomed threatening members of the royal family. Son and heir to the throne Prince Charles, with a manic glint in his eyes, wielded a sharp axe; grinning grandson Prince William, accompanied by heavily pregnant and topless wife Kate, had his finger on the trigger of a brandished pistol, while naked playboy Prince Harry glowered grimly in the background with folded arms. ‘God Save Our Queen’ proclaimed a plaque on the wall, and a bulging handbag decorated with the British Flag lay on the floor next to her armchair.
Scissors in hand and crouched on the floor of my paper-strewn bedroom in Istanbul, I chuckled to myself as I surveyed the scene. Suddenly siezed by inspiration that morning, after half an hour of sifting and snipping through my disorganized library of photographic material I’d come up with a collage worth sharing – my first in three months. I decided to call the Picture ‘Succession’ or ‘Impatient Heirs’. It made sense to me. How long will the Queen remain on the throne? She’s quite healthy now and probably has many a year ahead before her lavish royal funeral. Prince Charles is in his sixties. Will he be in his eighties by the time he becomes King? Or will he decide to secede and let William wear the crown and rule in his stead? Meanwhile, will Kate’s offspring be a boy or a girl? The sex makes no difference any more, as it has now been decreed that it is the firstborn who inherits heirship . Poor Harry stands little chance of becoming the merry monarch with all this competition in between. I portrayed him naked because of shock photos of his recent Las Vegas skinny-dipping party displayed in the tabloid press, and Kate bare-breasted likewise because of the Papparrazi pictures showing her topless on holiday last year.
I took the collage to a nearby stationary shop and had it scanned and emailed to my address before returning home and posting the image on my Facebook page and that of the Stuckism Art group. It quickly reaped in a lot of ‘likes’ and positive comments. One, “PSML!”, was new to me. (It stands for “Pissed Myself Laughing!”) I was pleased.
The next morning when I logged on to Facebook I received the following message:
WE REMOVED YOUR CONTENT
We removed the following content you posted or were the admin of because it violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities -”
Three images were shown – my latest collage, another of the Queen in an embarrassing position which I had posted some months before, and a picture of the topless Kate from a tabloid magazine. Shocked at this blatant censorship of my freedom of expression, I posted the news on the sites where I had displayed the image on Facebook, entitled “Beware of Art Critical of the British Royal Family!”
Founder of the Stuckists, Charles Thompson, commented: “Sorry to disappoint. There is no censorship of criticism of the royal family (well, there may be, but not on this occasion). It is simply a matter that Facebook does not allow pictures of bare breasts (at least female bare breasts – males are OK, regardless of size) and the collage had a photo of bare breasts in it. It doesn’t matter whether they are on a royal or as common as muck. They just ain’t allowed. Mammaries are out.”
On investigation I learned that Facebook bans pictures of nudity, although in its new guidelines it explicitly says “Art nudity OK”. Are my collages not ‘art’? In fact the breasts I’d put on Kate were by Magritte. And Harry’s naked body was that of a showering Polish miner I’d taken from an educational geographic magazine, not a porno mag.
Someone suggested that I post the picture on another site and then post it on Facebook as a link, so I did. But a couple of hours after I’d added it to my website ‘Yabanji’, I thought better of it and deleted. I remembered that I’d had a whole site closed down by the moderators, Tripod, after I’d posted a picture of George W Bush bearing his bum in 2005. Facebook aren’t the only prudish controllers online.
The next time I logged in to Facebook I received a message saying I’d been banned from posting for 24 hours because of my violation. In the meantime I decided to post the picture on my Saatchi Gallery. Once it was there and my 24 hour ban was over I posted the link on Facebook.
The following morning I discovered another message from Facebook telling me to erase the picture and that any more of my posts would be blocked for 3 days. Apparently a miniature ‘preview image’ of the offending collage had also appeared with the link, breaking their code of decency.
There’s still two days to go before Facebook unblocks me, but it will be with trepidation that I post thereafter, viewing them now as a cross between Big Brother and Mrs. Grundy.
However, for the delectation of more liberal souls, here is a link to the scandalous collage, ‘Succession’. As far as I’m concerned, there should be no succession. How can a so called democratic country support a monarchy? Out with the lot of them, I say!
Michael Dickinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org