British Army, Anglo-Zulu War, Defence of Rorke's Drift by Elizabeth Thompson (1880, Royal Collection)

The Woke War Over Rorke’s Drift Painting

Famous British Army Victory Gets Woke Warning After BLM Campaign

Black Lives Matter campaigners in the UK have won another victory against British history. A painting of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift and other artworks in the Royal Collection have been rebranded to reflect the Black Lives Matter agenda.

The Battle of Rorke’s Drift was one of the British Army’s most famous victories. A vastly outnumbered unit of only 141 British soldiers successfully defended a remote field hospital from an attack by 4,000 Zulu warriors.

Queen Victoria commissioned Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler, to commemorate the victory, producing a stunning painting capturing the drama and desperation of the British defence.

Completed in 1880, the oil painting The Defence of Rorke’s Drift depicts the 1879 battle during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1877 to 1879. Such heroism was shown during the battle that 11 Victoria Crosses, the highest award for bravery, were presented.

The survivors posed for painter Elizabeth Thompson at Portsmouth where the regiment was quartered. Here they gave her their eye-witness accounts and put on a representation of the battle for her “dressed in the uniforms they wore on that dreadful night […] the result was that I reproduced the event as nearly to the life as possible”. Butler wrote that she had “managed to show, in that scuffle, all the V.C.’s and other conspicuous actors in the drama.”

Officer Commanding, Lieutenant John Chard, Royal Engineers, stands in the centre (light-coloured breeches), pointing with his left arm, with Lieutenant Bromhead, sword in hand, behind him.

Following the Black Lives Matter campaign, the painting now carries the warning “This work is connected to colonialism and imperialism”.

Such politically motivated re-interpretation has swept through the Royal Collection, seeing a bust of philosopher John Locke in Kensington Palace now carrying a description noting his indirect link to slavery. In Windsor Castle, a bust of the Duke of Marlobourgh, honoured for his victory over the French in 1704, now also carries a woke warning.

Under pressure from Black Lives Matter activists, the Royal Collection began reviewing hundreds of thousands of artworks, looking for any connections with slavery, ‘colonialism’ or ‘imperialism’. The Defence of Rorke’s Drift is one of 62 works that have had their descriptionis amended following the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Following news of the Royal Collection’s latest move, the public have expressed outrage. Writing on the Daily Mail website, readers made their views clear:

Specific and Limited, Somewhere or Other, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

When will this nonsense stop?

NotMeHonestly, BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom, about 3 hours ago

As soon as you add these labels you make the articles themselves targets. I can’t help suspecting that it will be a very, very short time before we see artwork being vandalised if not completely destroyed, and that whether consciously or otherwise this is exactly what these woke ideologues want to happen.

Employed, London, United Kingdom, about 3 hours ago

I am so glad this whole thing started, because I was too complacent before, as a parent. Now I make sure I teach British History at home. I am not an historian, so I use second hand books, published in the 1920s and 1930s, such as Kermack, The Expansion of Britain from the Age of Discoveries, The British Empire and World Peace, History of the British People, etc.

Readers who wish to express their own views should contact the Royal Collection directly.

Following the politically motivated vandalism and destruction of public monuments in the UK in 2020, a not-for-profit coalition called Save Our Statues (SOS) was formed to protect Great Britain’s exceptional and irreplaceable historical and cultural heritage.

Further Reading on Rorke’s Drift

Rorke’s Drift

Zulu! The Battle for Rorke’s Drift 1879

Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift