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Exclusive: OUCA members’ secret British Empire dining society

The Oxford Student has received a dossier which points to the existence of a secret British Empire themed dining society made up of members of the Oxford University Conservative Association.

The logo of the society

The logo of the society

The male-only group claims to be made up of ‘sound gentlemen of the University of Oxford’. The members refer to each other by names of former British colonies, with the President going by India, and others by Ireland, Australia and Canada. The members sign off emails with “Your faithful servant” and the name of their allocated former colony.

Members are selected from the OUCA ranks by other Viceroys. They then have to pay £50 for lifetime membership. This fee includes the silk club bow tie, which members are instructed to wear as part of the white tie dress code for all dinners.

The highly secretive nature of the club is indicated by one email between members which reminds its recipients to “appreciate that the society must be discreet”.

The dossier reveals that the dining society includes members from every level of OUCA. Many are senior members in the OUCA committee. The society also includes one former OUCA president.

The society holds termly ‘Banquets’ which vary in price from £35 to £50. Locations vary from rooms in colleges to the Worcester Room of the Randolph Hotel.

One dinner was arranged to “mark 364 years since one of the most odious crimes in British history – the regicide of King Charles I. King Charles was canonised after the restoration because of his unwavering duty to God and his Country”.

The invitation continues with the quote: “Kings are not bound to give account of their actions but to God alone”.

Another dinner was organised to “celebrate 172nd anniversary of the birth of the Admiral of the Fleet John Arbuthnot ‘Jacky Fisher’ […] who is heir to Admiral the Viscount Nelson in our great naval tradition which has and still to this day (and please god well into the future) shape [sic] the face of the World”.

Others were arranged to celebrate St Crispin’s Day and the battle of Agincourt in 1415.

The revelations of this Empire-themed dining society follow a number of other scandals relating to OUCA. Almost two years ago members were alleged to have been witnessed singing a Nazi-themed song. Other scandals include complaints that poorer OUCA members had been ridiculed by former public schoolboys, leading to suggestions of class discrimination.

Previous OUCA presidents include the Baroness Thatcher and Sir Edward Heath, leading some to see it as training ground for future Conservative Party leaders.




  1. Anonymous

    19th August 2013 at 17:20

    How exactly is this a scandal? Comparing the celebration the British Empire with the celebration of the Nazi regime as this article seems to do by insinuation is strikes me as somewhat of a hyperbole…

  2. Anonymous

    19th August 2013 at 19:04

    Because it’s OUCA, who’re just fair game from the point of view of everyone else.

    Everyone needs someone to hate – how left-wing you are is just dictated by how socially acceptable it is.

  3. Anonymous

    19th August 2013 at 19:14

    It’s a scandal because members of OUCA are treating the british empire as a basis for a fun dining club (which I’d be willing to wager is all white) and completely ignoring the brutality of colonialism by turning it into a schoolboy joke. Racism, like anti-semitism, is a scandal.

  4. Walter Arbuthnot

    19th August 2013 at 21:42

    I wonder why I haven’t been invited for dinner?

  5. Hugo Spliffle-Wiffle

    19th August 2013 at 22:57

    Even as a someone with a usual mild dislike of exaggerated boistous drinking societies, I find nothing wrong this. Just some lame gossip about a common target of the student press. Oxford students in history themed society shocker!

  6. Anon

    20th August 2013 at 01:30

    Actually, Anonymous (#3), At the time of the last scandal the proportion of OUCA’s elected officers and committee that was black and minority ethnic (BME) was higher than the proportion of BME students in the undergraduate population as a whole- meaning ethnic minorities were actually over represented. One of OUCA’s recent Secretaries was a Black Northerner, and another recent OUCA secretary was Indian (not someone of Indian decent, but actually Indian). When the latter gentleman ran for committee he got more votes than any other candidate.

    Secondly, many citizens of former British Colonies have very positive views of their imperial history- The British Empire’s legacy is a matter of international historical debate with opponents and supporters in multiple races. To say supporting the British Empire is racist is reductive, patronisingly simplistic and in itself racist, because it says that non-white people aren’t allowed to formulate their own opinion on their history and have no choice but to oppose the empire.

    Still going to troop out the tired old “OUCA’s racist because they’re OUCA” card to desperately bolster your leftie credentials? Or are you actually going to listen to a fact or two for a change?

    This is a non-story, people who happen to like the empire and British history having dinner is not bad or controversial . If that was the case then you’d have to run a story on half the History Society and History tutors in Oxford…

  7. Anonymous

    20th August 2013 at 10:00

    At the very least, naming yourself after former colonies and prancing around in white tie in a PR disaster, and even if you personally disagree, it’s apparent that other don’t agree with you. Members of OUCA should know better than to lend more fuel to the fire, and even if you want to say that something like this is harmless in itself, in other people’s perceptions thereof, it is anything but.

  8. Relevant information

    20th August 2013 at 10:06

    “Downing Street said that he shared public outrage at the decision to hold this week’s Open Championship at the men-only Muirfield golf club. ‘The Prime Minister has a great deal of sympathy with the view that exclusive memberships of this sort look more to the past than they do to the future'”

  9. SR

    20th August 2013 at 13:02

    Founded by George Mahwinney.

    Yes, the same chap who Joe Cooke supported in #ybaotr

    According to another paper:

    • Andrew North (Chemistry, New College)
    • Frederick de Fossard (History, Magdalen)
    • George Mawhinney (Law, Oriel)
    • Jack Moore (History & Politics, Brasenose)
    • James Heywood (PPE, Magdalen)
    • Oliver Johnson (History, Exeter)
    • Robert Greig (PPE, Magdalen)”

    So a number of current officers. You couldn’t make it up.

  10. SR

    20th August 2013 at 13:04

    OUCA has many good people in it, but Viceroys sounds like an absolute set of tools

  11. Anon II

    22nd August 2013 at 21:59

    Publishing the names of the OUCA members supposedly in this dining society strikes me as a much bigger douchebag move than being a member. What a tool.

  12. Corrections

    13th January 2014 at 06:54

    You wager wrong, Anonymous#3, the Viceroys were not all white as Zachary Spiro (Biochemistry, Oriel), who has far-eastern parentage, was also a paying member. He is the former Political Officer of OUCA who was recorded in the Cherwell shouting at a female speaker “shame for being a woman” whilst he was chairing a debate and was later on in the term stripped of his position and suspended from OUCA unanimously by a panel that included his friends for trying to smear his political opponents in the press (smears the press refused to run because they were patently untrue). He was kicked out of the Viceroys for being a thoroughly unpleasant character, e.g. the above examples.

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