Ralph Heimans, “The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” (2012) / spray paint
Around noon on Thursday, June 13, 2013, a 41-year old man sprayed the word “HELP” onto this portrait of Queen Elizabeth II while the work was on view at Westminster Abbey. The suspect, Tim Haries, was arrested on site. Haries, a member of protest group Fathers 4 Justice, told police that he was a “desperate dad” who had damaged the painting in a bid to draw attention to his fight to gain access to his two children. A spokesman for Fathers 4 Justice supported the act, saying, “Tim Haries has lost all contact with his children and felt he had nothing to lose by appealing directly to the Queen for help by spraying his plea onto her portrait. I would support this act, but it is sad that he has to take such desperate steps.” The painting, which had been commissioned to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the queen’s coronation, was removed from public viewing, but museum spokespersons did not believe the damage to be irreparable.