Iranian cartoonists have joined together to mount an exhibition mocking Britain’s ‘wicked’ Queen Elizabeth II as a cutlass-weilding pirate sporting the skull-and-crossbones, after the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.
Forty caricatures have now gone on display in the “Pirates of the Queen” exhibition at the Osveh Art and Cultural Center in Tehran to throw the spotlight on the seizure of Grace 1 by Royal Marines which was denounced by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “piracy” by the “vicious British.”
Iran retaliated by seizing a British-flagged tanker in the contested Strait of Hormuz on July 19.
The exhibiton title was chosen as a spoof on the film Pirates of the Caribbean. The Queen is shown wearing a tricorn black hat with skull and crossbones, naval uniform and a cutlass in the main promotion.
One cartoon shows the Queen dressed as a burglar in a black beanie and mask about to be caught in a net while towing away a vessel marked “Iran.”
Another displays her as an angler wearing Revolutionary Guard uniform reeling in a fox — a common symbol of Britain in Iranian popular culture.
A man views caricatures at the “Pirates of the Queen” cartoon exhibition showing artwork by Iranian artists portraying Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as a “pirate” over the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker earlier in the month, at the Osveh Art and Cultural Center in the capital Tehran on July 30, 2019. – (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors to the exhibition told AFP they were impressed by the artwork.
“It empowers me” to see these cartoons show “that Britain with all its bluster regarding its military power… can be put in its place and stopped,” said a public sector worker who only gave his name as Rezayi.
“Some of the works were great,” said businessman Hassan Shayi, whose company has links to the government.
“I feel proud that with the situation our country is in it is still standing up to global powers,” he said.
“As the leader said, the days of hit-and-run are over. It’s a slap for a slap and fist against fist,” said Shayi.
“When Iran seized the British tanker, I was filled with pride. I was so happy I cannot begin to describe it. It shows Iran’s power, that they can no longer do whatever they like.”
Some of the cartoons take aim at Britain acting on behalf of Iran’s arch-enemy the United States.
One shows U.S. President Donald Trump patting the head of a fox in an outfit bearing the Union Jack and with the Grace 1 between its teeth.
Another has the Queen in a deflating inflatable turtle float marked “Royal Navy.”
“Our primary purpose of setting up this exhibition was a kind of a reaction to this blatant maritime piracy which was completely illegal,” said curator Masoud Shojaei-Tabatabayi.
Britain’s role in the failure of constitutional reform in the early years of the 20th century and in the coup that overthrew the Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953 is still remembered with anger in Iran.
The piracy reference is new, however, driven by a recent speech by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said: “The wicked Britain commits an act of maritime piracy and steals our ship.”
AFP contributed to this story