The statue of Winston Churchill in London which was recently targeted by protestors has now been uncovered, ahead of a visit to the UK by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Macron is due in London to mark the 80th anniversary of a speech by General Charles de Gaulle, who led French forces, asking the population to resist the German occupation of France during the Second World War.

The statue has been boarded up for protection since last week – but why was it, and why is it proving controversial?

Here’s what you need to know…

Advertisement

What has happened to Winston Churchill’s statue?

The statue, in Parliament Square, Westminster, was boarded up for protection after it was covered in graffiti calling him a racist during a Black Lives Matter protest earlier this month.

Advertisement

Advertisement

The statue to Britain’s wartime leader was daubed in spray paint saying he ‘was a racist’, while another protestor was pictured trying to set fire to a union flag on the Cenotaph commemorating the nation’s war dead.

The decision was taken to board it up after both anti-racism and far-right groups planned protests in the capital last weekend.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said at the time he was ‘extremely concerned’ that further protests in London, particularly by extreme far-right groups which ‘advocate hatred and division’, could lead to violence and disorder.

Why has Winston Churchill’s statue caused controversy?

Despite his achievements in leading the country during the Second World War, some have also criticised Churchill for his views on race and ethnicity.

In 1937, he said: ‘I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia.

‘I do not admit that a wrong has been done to those people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, or, at any rate, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.’

He once is said to have described Indians as ‘a beastly people with a beastly religion’ as well as boasting of killing ‘savages’ during the early part of his career in Sudan.

However, the biggest bone of contention comes with his response to the Bengal famine of 1943-44, with historians having suggested that Churchill’s actions contributed to it significantly.

His policies saw access to international food supplies being largely denied by his war cabinet, with the then prime minister reportedly claiming that relief efforts would not help because Indians bred ‘like rabbits’.

Churchill’s granddaughter Emma Soames has spoken out against the defacing of his statue saying: ‘It is extraordinarily sad that my grandfather, who was such a unifying figure in this country, appears to have become a sort of icon through being controversial.

Having acknowledged that her grandfather held views which are ‘particularly now are regarded as unacceptable but weren’t necessarily then’, she admitted the statue may have to be moved to a museum for its own safety.’

MORE: Raheem Sterling vows to bring about change through Black Lives Matter movement