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Murals of Queen with tattoo and thigh-high stockings whitewashed for being ‘offensive’

Cafe owner says graffiti by celebrated street artist Loretto on his building was removed without warning

02 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Cafe owner Said Effafali said he paid for artist Loretto for one of the murals [Photos: Chris Jones]

STREET art murals which showed the Queen with a tattoo and thigh-high stockings were whitewashed without warning on the grounds that they were “offensive”.

The building’s owner said he was told by officials that the images, painted by celebrated graffiti artist Loretto, had been “a disgrace to our Queen”.

Camden’s street cleaning contractors, Veolia, began painting over them during an apparent surprise visit to the Food Bazaar café in Gray’s Inn Road, Holborn, on Monday morning.

One of the murals showed the Queen lifting up her royal gown to reveal an anarchist tattoo on her leg, while in the other – which had been on the building for more than a year – the monarch was sporting frilly dress and stockings.

Said Effafali, who owns the building, said: “They did not send me a letter, there was no phone call beforehand. The first I heard about it was a lot of noise from near the tables – I thought it was a customer sitting down – but by the time I got there the damage was done. They told me it was a disgrace to our Queen. They were very hostile.”

Before and after a visit from Camden Council’s contractors

He added: “I am from Morocco, Casablanca. My kids are English. I have been in this country 34 years, had the shop for 18 years. I have never had any problem or any issue with people talking to me like this. I don’t understand what the problem is.”

Camden Council privatised street graffiti cleaning in April when it included the service in a huge new contract with Veolia.

Loretto’s art has won plaudits from art critics around the world and earlier this year he put up a mural of prime minister Theresa May dressed as Marilyn Monroe, and another of Jeremy Corbyn as the Italian monk St Francis of Assisi – one of the most respected figures in religious history – in nearby Fitzrovia.

In Soho, US President Donald Trump was portrayed three steps back in the March of Progress illustration about evolution. These works remain on their respective walls but the Queen mural – described this week by fans as a “jaunty exposition of the Queen smoking and looking for fun”  has not been tolerated.

Mr Effafali said the cost to him could reach £1,000 as five tables and chairs had been damaged by the painters, adding: “Loretto did the first painting without my permission, but I liked it so much, I paid him to do the second – it’s on private property.”

A Veolia spokesman said: “A report of offensive graffiti was made by a member of the public on October 28 and we started removing this on October 30. A council officer has visited the business owner to explain why the graffiti is being removed.”

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