What Queen Elizabeth's Royal Sword Collection Has To Do With The Ukraine Crisis

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, many people have made their stance on the war known. Companies like Starbucks and McDonald's pulled out of Russia while different sports leagues banned Russian teams. Governments sanctioned Russian oligarchs; all of this is in an attempt to put economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his unprovoked war (via The New York Times). While sanctions have questionable outcomes, that hasn't stopped a cultural boycott of Russian art and culture. 

The issue of canceling Russian culture is a complicated one. Zachary Woolfe of NYT asks: "What is sufficient distance from authoritarian leadership? And what is sufficient disavowal, particularly in a context when speaking up could threaten the safety of artists or their families?" There is also a danger to cultural boycotts. "So far, the cultural backlash fits neatly within the Kremlin's overarching narrative," writes The Atlantic, "that sanctions are proof of the West's hatred not just of Putin and his oligarchs, but of the Russian people themselves."

This has the risk of causing a wider marginalization of Russian people outside Russia. Though, as Darya Bassel, a Ukrainian movie producer, told Vanity Fair: "It's a dangerous illusion that culture is beyond politics, that culture doesn't influence you and your opinions, and that it can't be used as a weapon."

Not only are people boycotting Russian art, but they're also refusing to share Western art and culture with Russia. That includes Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth's royal sword collection won't be going to Russia anymore

Much in line with the way stores are no longer selling their products in Russia, organizations are no longer loaning art from their collections to Russian museums. Queen Elizabeth, who traditionally remains apolitical as sovereign, has also taken a clear stance against Russia. Not only has she made a personal donation to help during the growing humanitarian crisis, she's also participating in Russian cultural boycotting, Newsweek reports.

The Royal Collection, responsible for curating the Queen's items, agreed to loan three swords to be exhibited in Moscow. The show, however, had been sponsored by Alisher Usmanov, a Russian oligarch who The Guardian reports has been hit by sanctions. The Royal Armouries, a separate group, already sent six swords over to take part in the exhibition, which will now be returned. The organization told Newsweek, "This mirrors the process that other major European collections have gone through regarding the items from their collections that are also on loan as part of this exhibition."

Other members of the royal family have also made it clear they support Ukraine. Prince William and Kate Middleton made public statements, while Camilla Parker Bowles made a "substantial" personal donation to help. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, too, spoke out against the Russian invasion.