'Not My King' Anti-Monarchy Protesters Arrested In London Ahead of Charles' Coronation

AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool

Saturday, around 7:30 a.m. in London, the head of Republic, the UK’s leading anti-monarchist republican movement, and five other organizers of a ‘Not my King’ protest at King Charles III’s coronation procession were arrested. Graham Smith, the chief executive of Republic, was detained by police while collecting drinks and placards for the protesters at the main site of the protest in Trafalgar Square. The group had been walking behind a rental van full of hundreds of placards when they were stopped by police.


The Metropolitan Police tweeted on Wednesday that they would have a “low tolerance” of those seeking to “undermine” the day, specifically noting protesters. The police dubbed their security duties as ‘Operation Golden Orb’ and wrote,

“On Coronation Day we will have the largest one day mobilisation of officers seen in decades with over 11,500 officers on duty. 29,000+ deployments during the operation.”

The arrest of the protest organizers came as a surprise, as they had previously had several meetings with the police, who had been “making all the right noises,” said Harry Stratton, a director at Republic, who arrived as Smith and the others were detained.

Stratton describes the confusion surrounding the arrests, saying,

“The guys asked why, and they were told: we will tell you that once we have searched the vehicle. That’s when they arrested the six organizers. We asked on what grounds they had been arrested, but they wouldn’t say.”

One of the individuals detained and arrested, Matt Turnbull, said that the straps used to secure the placards were misunderstood as a tool for “locking-on..” This week, legislation was enacted that prohibits individuals from preparing to attach themselves to items such as street fixtures in protest.


The public order states:

These measure criminalise the protest tactic of individuals attaching themselves to others, objects or buildings to cause serious disruption. The locking-on offence will carry a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.

The maximum penalty for the offence of going equipped to lock-on will be an unlimited fine.

The arrest came as hundreds of anti-monarchist protesters gathered at Trafalgar Square with large flags and wearing yellow T-shirts, as they looked to catch the attention of the media and the monarch on his coronation day. The demonstrators claim they planned to boo and wave their yellow flags and signs as King Charles III’s procession passed by on the way to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey. The number of protesters continues to swell in Trafalgar Square as shouts of “Free Graham Smith” have joined the “Not my King” chants.

Video has emerged on social media of a police officer threatening an anti-monarchist with arrest if his chants “escalate” causing a “public nuisance.” The officer “advises” against the chants.

The demonstrator questions,


“You wouldn’t advise it, why not? Because it’s free speech, isn’t it? Why can’t we chant ‘Not my King’?”

The protester continues to question what the officer means and says,

“I’m trying to work out where my right to freedom of expression lies today. We are entitled…”

The exchange ends with the protester asking,

“If we chant ‘Not my King’ in a public street today, we are going to be removed for public nuisance, is that what you’re saying?”

The officer warns, “Maybe, possibly.”

Prominent figures from the anti-monarchy movement, including 23-year-old Patrick Thelwell, who was convicted last month for throwing five eggs at the king during a visit to York, have joined the protest. Thelwell denied bringing any eggs to the demonstration, adding that his parole officer had warned him about being followed by counter-terrorism authorities.

He expected to be arrested and remarked on the state of the country, saying,

“It will be interesting to see how far we have descended into being a fascist country.”


The event was expected to feature speeches from Labour MP Clive Lewis, human rights activist Peter Tatchell, and lawyer Paul Powlesland, who faced the threat of arrest when he held up a blank piece of paper after the queen’s death, because he said he intended to write ‘Not My King’ on it.

The group had seemingly planned to demonstrate peacefully, but the police response suggests a crackdown on any form of dissent on this ceremonial day.


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