An aide caught the offensive language just in time.
Like beauty, all art is in the eye of the beholder, right? There are some obvious exceptions, of course, like when you have a giant racist painting hanging in your royal “sitting room” and the African-American President of the United States is in town for a visit.
Before Barack and Michelle Obama’s visit to Kensington Palace on Friday night, a promotion-deserving aide caught site of the painting in question, unfortunately entitled, “The Negro Page.”
The 1660 painting features a young black servant holding a horse two horses, presumably with his master in wait. According to The Sun, it was personally chosen by Duchess Kate from the 7,500 piece strong Royal Collection. In recent years, the painting has been more commonly referred to as “A page with two horses,” but the quick-thinking aide had someone remove a plaque, which contained the more offensive title.
An anonymous source told The Sun: "No-one wanted to cause any offence to the Obamas so a screwdriver was summoned to remove the picture's title. Image is very important to the Cambridge’s' team so they didn't want to get anything wrong."
Although not everyone thinks they should have taken the painting down. In a post over at Jezebel, Kara Brown writes:
“I for one think this could have been a learning opportunity for all parties. Barack and Michelle would look at the title and probably not think much of it because, have you seen what they say about us in America? William and Kate would nervously laugh and awkwardly dance around saying the word ‘negro.’ Then they would all sit down for tea and a nice long discussion about racism, microaggressions and the responsibilities of white allies. Maybe next time with the next vaguely racist painting.”
It was the first time Will and Kate held an official dinner at their private home and the first time cameras were allowed into the residence. When you combine that with the fact the their inaugural visit was the most powerful couple in the world – it was all the more important that they didn’t mess it up. And by all accounts, the visit was a huge success, though perhaps not picture perfect.