This is because the person in this case matters more than the painting. There’s something primitive about our attitude to royal portraits; they are tokens of the ruler herself. Just like Jamie Reid, who in 1977 committed an act of dada on the Queen’s portrait for the cover of the Pistols’ God Save the Queen, this protester has chosen to defile something the nation holds sacred. In Britain, there is nothing more sacred than Her Majesty. That’s why this iconoclasm is a shock: not because the royal image is vulnerable, but because it really does feel outrageous to desecrate the Queen’s image.