God save the Queen's portrait. A man was arrested in England today for defacing a recent portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which was on display in Westminster Abbey, in what is apparently a Father's Day-related attempt to ask for her help.
Reuters' Michael Holden reported that the organization Fathers4Justice, which advocates for fathers who lose custody disputes, said Tim Haries tried to spray paint the word "help" on the portrait. Haries "has lost all contact with his children and felt he had nothing to lose by appealing directly to the queen," the organzation's Jolly Stanesby said. The BBC reported turquoise paint was sprayed "over quite a lot" of the painting, according to Lord Harris of Peckham, who purchased the painting for the abbey with Lady Harris.
The portrait, which was commissioned for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year and only recently went on the display, features the queen wearing state dress and looking solemn "in the symbolic setting of the abbey's sacrarium," according to Caroline Davies of The Guardian. Painted by Australian artist Ralph Heimans, the work was apparently a perfect fit for the abbey. "The Queen in the glorious space of the abbey standing at the very place where she committed herself to God and her people reflects powerfully on the years of service," Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said at the time of purchase. "I am delighted that this portrait will help countless numbers of future visitors to the abbey to celebrate and give thanks for this remarkable reign." Except not so much right now.
The BBC added that the perpetrator was a member of the group Fathers4Justice, but that the act was not orchestrated by that organization. "This was not an official Fathers for Justice protest but it was carried out by one of our members," the group said in a statement. "It's Father's Day on Sunday — it's a very emotional time and this protest was a desperate plea for help." Though even a supporter on Twitter argued that spray painting her portrait may not be the best way to get her attention.
Any publicity is good publicity, but this is a bad way to ask for custody: "Queen's portrait defaced with paint ctvnews.ca/world/man-arre…"— Kong (@Wicker_Bin) June 13, 2013
Lord Harris has a different opinion, finding it "ridiculous" to take out anger on the Queen.
Now the process of restoration must begin. "Until work can be done to remedy the damage it will, very regrettably, not be possible to have the painting on public view," a spokesperson for the abbey said.
We'd worry about how the Queen is reacting to this, but we figure she probably has other things to worry about. For instance, Kate Middleton wore leopard print. Heaven forbid.
Update: Here's a (blurry) image of the vandalism: