Queen Victoria Banksy
Banksy’s Queen Victoria is perhaps one of the artist’s most controversial artworks. It was released in 2003 by Pictures on Walls of London as an edition of 500 Queen Victoria unsigned prints and 50 signed prints. The work depicts the famously stern English monarch sitting on the face of another woman, in the middle of performing a sexual act known as ‘queening’.
Banksy is said to have taken inspiration from Queen Victoria’s assertion that women ‘were not able to be gay’. While it is speculated by some that the cause of the queen’s ignorance in this department – and consequently the continued legality of female homosexual relations while sodomy remained illegal – was perhaps due to her counsel not wishing to enlighten her about the existence of lesbians, others believe that Victoria made this statement to cover up her own sapphic tendencies, a theory that Banksy has exploited to powerful effect in this provocative print.
Both characters are realised in Banksy’s famous black and white stencil style against a regal red background. Queen Victoria is presented in full regalia 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 is well known for his criticism of the UK’s monarchy and government and here his powers of satire towards these ancient establishments are evident, continuing a theme also found in his Monkey Queen print, in which the artist depicts Queen Elizabeth II as a chimpanzee, and Turf War, which features Winston Churchill sporting a bright green mohican.
The work originally sold for £40 in 2003, but these days the works are known to realise record amounts at both auction and private sale. In 2006, American singer Christina Aguilera paid £25,000 for three artworks by Banksy including Queen Victoria. This striking piece is among Banksy’s most well-known works and is regularly in demand by collectors and anti-royalists alike.