Two weeks after Just Stop Oil, a climate change focused direct action group, made international headlines for throwing soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London, they have turned their sights to King Charles III. Or at least, the wax version of him on display at the Madame Tussauds in London. On Monday morning, two activists from the group smashed a cake into the face of Charles’s wax sculpture.
Madame Tussauds confirmed the incident in a statement on Twitter, adding that their royal family exhibit was closed temporarily. “At approximately 10:50 am today (Oct 24) protestors entered the ‘World Stage’ Zone at Madame Tussauds London and appeared to throw what is believed to be cake at our figures of The Royal Family,” they said. “Our security team dealt with the incident quickly and we are working closely with the Metropolitan Police on this matter.”
According to the BBC, the Metropolitan Police arrested four activists for criminal damage.
After smearing the statue with cake, two of the activists explained the logic behind the stunt. “Last year, at COP 26 in Glasgow, Queen Elizabeth said: ‘The time for words has moved to the time for action,’” said Eilidh McFadden and Tom Johnson. “The demand is simple: just stop new oil and gas. It’s a piece of cake.”
Though it might seem contradictory to attack Charles, a longtime climate activist, the group Just Stop Oil was founded with support from the Climate Emergency Fund to fight against all exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK, which is something Charles has stopped short of advocating for. The group has opted for attention-grabbing protests, often involving attacking but not destroying priceless art, in order to emphasize the extreme risks of climate change to humanity and property.
In an interview with Sky News last week, musician and philanthropist Bob Geldof succinctly explained what he admired about the group. “That’s just annoying. And annoying is quite good,” he said. “Annoying people into policy change may not work. Does that mean I’m against their passion? Their anger? Their bravery? No. Would I put up with it? They’re not killing anyone. Climate change will.”
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