Not My King: Thousands Protest Against Coronation
Despite police intimidation, opposition to the monarchy was loud and clear in central London on Saturday
3 min. read | By Orlando Hill
As Charles III was crowned king in a sickening display of pomp and privilege, thousands of protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square and marched in central London to oppose the coronation and the monarchy. Not that you’d know this from the wall-to-wall coverage of the coronation in the mainstream media.
The day started with a dystopian display of authoritarianism. At 2am, the Metropolitan police had arrested Westminster Night Safety volunteers for carrying rape alarms that they claim could have been used to disrupt the coronation, and early in the morning they arrested Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic who called the protest, and a number of the organising team. They seized their #NotMyKing placards claiming the tie-ups on the placard sticks counted as “lock-on” devices banned under the new Public Order Act. At the time of writing, 14 hours since they were arrested, they remain detained by the police.
Later in the day, protesters were arrested for simply wearing t-shirts that said “Just Stop Oil”. Another was flagged by the police’s facial recognition software and arrested on suspicion of carrying eggs – then released when he had nothing on him. At least 50 people were arrested throughout the day. The outrageous actions of the police show just how draconian and anti-democratic the new legislation targeting protest is and why it must be resisted.
Despite the pouring rain and the best efforts of the police to intimidate protesters, around ten thousand people made sure the chants of “Not my king” and “Up with the republic, down with the crown” rang out on the streets of London.
The protesters were joyous and good humoured. Everyone joined in shouting the chants, some of the popular ones included: “What do we want? Democracy! When do we want it? Now!”, and the Celtic football fans’ chant: “You can shove your coronation up your arse.” Another that sounded like a football chant was “the French were right: the King is shite.”
People were carrying creative hand-made placards, some of the slogans read: “The only good King is Burger King”, “Pay for your own party”, “Party like it’s 1789”. Some of the placards referred to the money that could have gone to the NHS.
Arriving at the protest, it was intimidating walking up the escalator of Leicester Square Underground Station with Charles’ voice blaring from the speakers whishing passengers a “happy coronation weekend” and being surrounded by people draped in Union Jacks and wearing paper coronation crowns.
But the protest was an antidote to the royal madness. Despite being blocked from entering Trafalgar Square and being split up by the police, the numbers grew and began to march. The police did little to separate the protest from those who were there to see the coronation – but surprisingly there was little friction as a result. For the most part, coronation-goers seemed surprised, and even interested.
Lots of them stopped to take photos and film the march. There were very few people who seemed to be die-hard monarchists. A woman dressed in the Union Jack gave the thumbs up as we marched along. A middle-aged man dressed in a kilt and waving the Union Flag joined in the march chanting along. The march was halted at Park Lane by the police. It then split into two with a small group remaining on the corner of Park Lane and a larger group marching towards Piccadilly Circus.
As we left and made our way to underground station, a man came up to us and pointed at the yellow Republic flag with “not my King” on it. “I like the flag”, he informed us. Then he walked off with his fist held high. From what we witnessed today, there doesn’t seem to be solid support for the monarchy. Most people who had gone to the coronation went for the day out and in some ways to take part in a historic event.
Today will go down in history – as a day when an unelected billionaire threw a lavish and archaic ceremony to bestow powers upon himself with a monumental £250m price tag in the middle of a cost of living crisis pushing millions into poverty. It will also go down in history as the day the state attempted to silence dissent against the crown and the system it heads up, one of the first displays of the truly terrifying powers that have been handed to the police to quash our right to protest, and that despite this, republicanism was in the air.
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