Man arrested for defacing queen's portrait in London
A man was arrested at London's Westminster Abbey on Thursday for defacing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II commissioned to mark her 60 years on the throne.
"In an incident at lunchtime today, a visitor to the abbey sprayed paint on the Ralph Heimans portrait of the queen, presently on display in the Chapter House," a spokeswoman for the abbey said.
"Until work can be done to remedy the damage it will -- very regrettably -- not be possible to have the painting on public view."
The protest group Fathers4Justice said one of its members was responsible, although the protest was not backed by the group, which campaigns for equal access rights for divorced fathers.
Scotland Yard said officers had been called to the abbey at about 12.30 pm (1130 GMT), where security guards had detained a 41-year-old man for defacing a painting.
"He was arrested by police on suspicion of criminal damage and taken to a central London police station where he is in custody," it said in a statement.
The oil painting by Heimans, a Sydney-born artist based in London, is titled "The Coronation Theatre" and was commissioned for the queen's diamond jubilee last year.
Measuring nine feet by 11 feet (about 2.7 metres by 3.4 metres), it depicts the monarch in the state dress she wore to her coronation in 1953 and taking an imagined moment of solitary reflection in the sacrarium of Westminster Abbey.
The painting was first shown at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, and now forms part of the permanent collection of the abbey in London.
It was put on public display on May 23 as part of a special exhibition marking 60 years since the coronation, and was due to stay up until September 27.
Nadine O'Connor, a spokeswoman for Fathers4Justice, said she had met the arrested man earlier this week, but he gave no indication of what he was planning.
"This is a desperate plea for help," she told Sky News.
"We support the desperate attempts from this father to try to bring the subject into the open. It is extremely sad that (he) has to take such a desperate step."
She suggested he could have acted ahead of Father's Day in Britain on Sunday.
© 2013 AFP