Anti-Monarchy Group Protesting Coronation of King Charles Arrested
Police in London arrested the leader of the anti-monarchy group Republic and 51 others, protesting the coronation of King Charles III a move labelled “alarming” by human rights groups.
Republic leader Graham Smith was detained on Saturday morning, according to a photo posted on Twitter, and he was sitting on the ground surrounded by police officers.
“We absolutely understand public concern following the arrests we made this morning,” London Metropolitan Police Commander Karen Findlay said in a statement.
“Over the past 24 hours, there has been a significant police operation after we received information that protesters were determined to disrupt the Coronation procession.”
Republic had previously stated that it will stage the largest protest against a British ruler in modern history. Protesters stood out by wearing yellow t-shirts and holding placards that read, “Not My King.”
They spent the majority of the service booing or singing songs like “He’s just a normal man. It’s disgusting and massively over the top,” Kevin John, 57, a Devon salesman who was among the demonstrators, said.
“It is also extremely counterproductive on the part of the police because all it has done is generate a tremendous amount of publicity for us.” It’s completely insane.”
Smith’s arrest was not confirmed by police. They claimed they acted because they feared demonstrators might use paint to deface public landmarks and hinder “official movements.”
“All of these people remain in custody,” Findlay told the BBC.
According to police, the arrests were made for affray, public order offences, breach of the peace, and conspiracy to make a public disturbance.
A later analysis found that 32 people, or around 60%, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to produce a public disturbance.
The Met did not specify how many anti-monarchy demonstrators were arrested, but climate organisation Just Stop Oil reported that roughly 13 protestors were arrested on London’s Mall and five others in Downing Street.
A spokesperson with Just Stop Oil stated that their intention was to “only display T-shirts and flags,” adding, “This is a dystopian nightmare.”
Animal Rising, another environmental protest group, stated a number of its members were arrested “miles away from the coronation” at a training session.
“Reports of people being arrested for peacefully protesting the coronation are extremely concerning,” said Yasmine Ahmed, director of Human Rights Watch UK.
“This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not in London.”
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in central London on Saturday in the rain, chanting “down with the Crown,” “don’t talk to the cops,” and “get a real job.”
Protests were also held in Cardiff, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. Outside of London, no arrests have been recorded.
Hundreds of demonstrators booed the declarations of “God Save the King” during the Coronation ceremony, which was broadcast over loud speakers in Trafalgar Square.
Around 300 people gathered in Cardiff City Centre for a protest sponsored by Republic Cymru.
In Scotland, proponents of Scottish independence marched in Glasgow city centre, chanting anti-monarchy chants, while the group Our Republic, which advocates for an elected head of state, held a separate event.
Anti-Monarchy Sentiment in the UK
Protests against the British monarchy are not uncommon, particularly in recent years. There have been various demonstrations and campaigns by anti-monarchy groups and individuals, with different goals and motivations.
One notable example of a protest against the monarchy occurred in 2018, when a group of activists from the campaign group Republic gathered outside Buckingham Palace to call for an end to the monarchy. The protesters carried signs and banners with slogans such as “Time to abolish the monarchy” and “End the royal racket”.
Another example is the protests that occurred in the aftermath of the interview of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, which sparked renewed debate about the role of the monarchy in modern society. Some protesters called for the abolition of the monarchy, while others focused on specific issues such as racism and the treatment of Meghan Markle.
It’s worth noting that while protests against the monarchy do occur, they are often small and relatively low-key, and the vast majority of Britons still support the institution. The monarchy is deeply ingrained in the country’s history and culture, and any proposals to abolish it would likely be met with significant resistance.
The UK monarchy has been a central part of the country’s political and cultural identity for centuries, but it has also been the subject of criticism and controversy. Some people in the UK are critical of the monarchy for a variety of reasons, including:
- Cost: Some people believe that the monarchy is an unnecessary expense for taxpayers, particularly given the economic challenges facing the country.
- Lack of accountability: The monarchy is not subject to the same level of scrutiny and accountability as other public figures, which some people believe is undemocratic.
- Outdated institution: Some people argue that the monarchy is an outdated institution that has no place in modern society, and that the country should become a republic.
- Royal scandals: Over the years, members of the royal family have been involved in scandals and controversies that have damaged the monarchy’s reputation.
Despite these criticisms, the monarchy still has many supporters in the UK, and polls consistently show that a majority of Britons support the institution. However, the debate over the monarchy’s future is likely to continue, and it remains to be seen what role the institution will play in the UK’s political and cultural landscape in the years to come.