Queen's portrait in Westminster Abbey defaced

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by artist Ralph Heimans, on display at Westminster Abbey, has been defaced with paint.

Recently displayed work removed until it can be restored

Artist Ralph Heimans poses beside his official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, entitled Coronation Theatre: Portrait Of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, inside the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey in May. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on display at Westminster Abbey has been defaced with paint.

The abbey says the painting by Ralph Heimans hanging in the building's Chapter House was vandalized at lunchtime on Thursday.

It has been removed from public view until it can be restored.

The portrait by Australia-born artist Heimans was commissioned to mark last year's anniversary of the queen's 60 years on the throne. It was on display until March in Australia's National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Last week the monarch attended a ceremony in the abbey to mark the 60th anniversary of her coronation there in June 1953.