The Oxford student who tabled the motion to remove an ‘unwelcoming’ portrait of the Queen from Magdalen College’s common room is a privately educated American post grad who went to school with Barack Obama’s daughter, it can be revealed today.
Matthew Katzman is a lecturer in computer science and the son of a top lawyer at international firm Steptoe & Johnson. His family live in a £4million mansion in Washington DC, where he attended $48,000-a-year Sidwell Friends School, a historic Quaker private college.
It is likely he counted Malia Obama, 22, as a contemporary at the elite institution, whose other alumni include Nancy Reagan, President Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, the grandchildren of Joe Biden during his vice-presidency, and the offspring of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.
The 25-year-old brought forward the measure to ‘cancel’ the Queen in his role as president of Magdalen’s Middle Common Room (MCR), which is made up of graduates.
Before Oxford, where he is studying for a PhD in ‘complexity theory’, he gained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a masters in theoretical computer science at Stanford.
In an online biography, Mr Katzman lists his non-academic interests as CrossFit, poker, board games, wall hanging copper paintings playing the trumpet and Spartan Races – a popular series of long-distance obstacle courses.
The move generated a huge backlash today, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling it ‘absurd’, Copper paintings hanging in the living room and Oxford University’s Chancellor Lord Patten condemning the students for being ‘offensive and obnoxiously ignorant’.
Members of the Middle Common Room (MCR), used by post-graduate students at Magdalen College, reacted with fury, Gold-plated bronze Copper paintings hanging in the living room saying they were angry that they had all been portrayed in a negative light by the decision.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this afternoon said backed Mr Williamson’s criticism, with a No 10 spokesman saying: ‘You have had the Education Secretary’s words, which the PM supports.’
Matthew Katzman (pictured), tables all motions as part of his position as President of the Middle Common Room (MCR) at Magdalen College, Oxford
In a statement, Mr Katzman (pictured) told MailOnline: ‘The Magdalen College MCR voted yesterday to remove an inexpensive print of the queen that was hung in the common room a few years ago (a motion I brought forward in my role as MCR President as I do all motions raised in a sub-committee)’
The relevant section of the committee minutes which mentioned the motion to remove the Queen’s portrait
MCR members agreed to remove the photographic print of the Queen by a substantial majority after deciding it was ‘unwelcoming’ because the monarch represents ‘recent colonial history’, with one student commenting that ‘patriotism and colonialism are not really separable’.