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“He is not my king.”
“It is and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
That exchange between two commentators on Twitter sums up the current friction in the UK, where the ascension to the throne of King Charles III has sparked anti-royal protests.
In dramatic fashion, the dynamic is playing out in real life: Police have made a number of arrests against people protesting against the monarchy in recent days, raising questions about the right to free speech as the UK proclaims a new head of state to replace the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Police in Scotland denounce breaches of the peace
In widely circulated photos, a woman holding a sign reading “Abolish the monarchy” and “F*** imperialism” was arrested on Sunday at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the queen’s body will rest until Tuesday. .
“Let her go! It’s free speech!” shouted a man, according to the scottish Newspaper. Others yelled back: “Have a little respect.”
The 22-year-old woman was arrested “in connection with a breach of the peace,” a Police Scotland spokesman told NPR, adding that she was formally charged and released, and her case is now pending in the Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court.
Similar reports surfaced Monday, including A case involving a man who was seen being forcibly removed from a parade barrier after yelling at the royal procession leading to the cathedral. He was reportedly interrupting Prince Andrew.
And in London, four uniformed officers took a woman away Monday after she held up a sign reading “Not my king,” which has become a trend label — near Westminster Hall.
Protester says he did not disrespect the late queen
The most high-profile case comes from Oxford, where author and activist Symon Hill says he was arrested for protesting the accession of Charles, in what he called “an outrageous attack on democracy”.
Hill said he only opposed Charles being proclaimed king, and did nothing to disrespect Elizabeth or interrupt those who mourned her.
“It was only when Carlos was declared ‘King Carlos III’ that I shouted ‘Who chose him?'” Hill said. as he recounted his experience “I doubt most people in the crowd heard me. Two or three people near me told me to shut up.”
The UK adopted new protest laws this year
Hill said police initially told him he was arrested under the UK’s recently toughened laws on protests, a change that came after advocacy groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter staged large and/or disruptive protests in recent years. years.
the new law it allows the police to act in cases it deems “unjustifiably loud protests that may have a significant impact on others” or seriously disrupt the activities of an organization.
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The arrests highlight people’s problems with the authorities, but large groups have also chosen or been forced to change their plans because of Elizabeth’s death.
Extinction Rebellion had planned for months to hold a huge protest in London this past weekend, dubbed the Festival of Resistance. But after the death of the queen, the group postponed his plansaying that “occupying a Royal Park at this time would not be practical”.
groups like Republic — in the UK, being a republican means to support ending the monarchy — are amplifying calls for change, sharing comments from people comparing the UK’s crackdown on protests to the actions of authoritarian regimes.
Republic said Monday that it is contacting law enforcement agencies to inquire about rules for protesters, adding that it intends to organize protests around Charles’s coronation “and will hope that those protests will be allowed to continue peacefully.”