Scenes from a medieval country

52 arrested for chanting ‘Not My King’ in Trafalgar Square during the Coronation

London, 6 May 2023 – The solemn stateliness, magnificence and the massive display of King Charles III historic coronation ceremony could not hide the shame of a country sliding into authoritarianism: 52 people have been arrested only because they were expressing their views on monarchy. Chanting the slogan ‘Not My King’ in Trafalgar Square is today a crime,

We all in Britain should take to the street for this. Videos posted on Twitter are legal evidence of abuse on the side of police. Protester handcuffed and put into vans in central London only for stating their opposition to monarchy.

Tory new law on ‘public nuisance’ (Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act) passed last year, is aimed at preventing any form of protest and free speech and therefore violates basic human rights. This is limitation of personal liberty, of freedom of association.

Police today arrested also the head of anti-monarchy ‘Republic’ movement, Graham Smith, seized protesters’ placards and applied face recognition surveillance. MET officers gathered “in front of the demonstration so that the king would not see the protest as he passed by on the way to the palace”, Australian-British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said to the Guardian.

Photo Paul Powlesland

The small group, reported as being less that 1000 people, had been reassured they could make the rally earlier by the police who then backed down.

In the video the police officer says “if the situation escalates this [the arrest] would happen”. When asked “Can we chant ‘Not my King’?? he replied “I would not advised it…you can cause public nuisance”.

But the very upsetting and concerning fact is that the arrest of Graham Smith happened in the early morning while he was preparing the meeting to go to Trafalgar. Police – the Time reports – did not give any justification to the arrest: “Just days before the coronation, the British government passed into law the Public Order Act, which gives the police greater powers to crack down on those engaging in popular protest tactics.”, a suspicion would be enough to arrest and detain a person without any legal evidence. Simply organising a rally is being now criminalised as potential disruption.  

The debate now is not around whether one likes the monarchy, it’s on how common citizens, individuals, groups can defend themselves from preventive allegations and illegal detentions.