UK police under fire from anti-monarchists over coronation protester arrests

2023-05-10 13:37:24
UK police under fire from anti-monarchists over coronation protester arrests

An anti-monarchy group says it plans to take legal action against London’s Metropolitan Police after several of its members were arrested as they prepared to protest the coronation of King Charles.

Civil liberties groups are accusing the police, and Britain’s Conservative government, of stifling the right to protest with new powers to clamp down on peaceful but disruptive demonstrations.

The police force expressed “regret” late Monday that the activists were prevented from protesting, but defended its handling of the coronation, which drew hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of London — hundreds of protesters among them.

Police arrested 64 people around Saturday's coronation, most for allegedly planning to disrupt the ceremonies. Four have been charged, most have been released on bail, and six members of anti-monarchist group Republic have been freed and told they will not face any charges.

Republic chief executive Graham Smith said three senior police officers had come to his house and apologized in person for the arrest that saw him held in custody for 16 hours.

“I said for the record I won’t accept the apology," Smith said, adding that the group "will be taking action.”

Thousands of people across Britain rallied on Saturday to protest the coronation of King Charles, as Republic it was the biggest protest against a UK monarch in history.

On social media, many contrasted the cost of living crisis in Britain with the pomp and pageantry on display at the coronation.

Polls suggest support for the British monarchy is declining and is weakest among young people. A poll by YouGov last month found 64% of people in Britain said they had little or no interest in the coronation. Among those aged 18 to 24, the number voicing little or no interest rose to 75%.

With the crown passing from Queen Elizabeth to her less popular son, republican activists hope Charles will be the last British monarch to be crowned.

"It has a hereditary billionaire individual born into wealth and privilege who basically symbolises the inequality of wealth and power in our society," said lawmaker Clive Lewis, who was among the anti-monarchy protesters.


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