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Queen
Victoria

Banksy’s Queen Victoria is the exemplification of his mastery of the shock-factor. On a lusty red background, the queen appears to straddle another woman’s face, engaged in a raunchy act called ‘queening’. It is not uncommon for Banksy to poke fun at the monarchy: indeed, his works are littered with anti-royalist sentiment.

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Meaning & Analysis

Banksy’s 2003 print Queen Victoria (Queen Vic) is one of the artist’s most controversial works. Loaded with wit and anti-royalist sentiment, the work depicts the famously stern English monarch sitting on the face of another woman, performing a sexual act known as ‘queening’. Pictures on Walls introduced the image with the instruction: “Show friends and colleagues your admiration for Britain’s greatest ever living monarch with this deluxe lesbian water sports fetish tableaux”.

Banksy is said to have taken inspiration from Queen Victoria’s assertion that women ‘were not able to be gay,’ which many speculate was a reason why female homosexual relations were technically legal during her rein. Others believe, however, that Victoria made this statement to cover up her own sapphic tendencies - a theory that Banksy has exploited to powerful effect in this provocative work.

Both characters are realised in Banksy’s famous black and white stencil style, and set against a regal red background. Queen Victoria is presented in full monarchical regalia, holding with her crown and sceptre, with the unexpected addition of suspenders, knee-high leather boots and a short skirt that exposes her upper thigh. Her partner is also wearing suspenders and high heels, her arms thrown back in submission.

Banksy consistently turns to satire as a means to convey his criticism of the UK government and the British monarchy: just look at prints like Monkey Queen - in which the artist depicts Queen Elizabeth II as a chimpanzee - and Turf War, which features wartime PM Winston Churchill sporting a bright green mohican.