Head of U.K.'s Anti-Monarchy Group 'Republic' Arrested at King Charles' Coronation
The police of the United Kingdom arrested Graham Smith, the head of the U.K.'s anti-monarchy group called "Republic" on May 6, Saturday. Smith was taken into police custody alongside a few other leading group members while the group was holding a peaceful protest at King Charles III's coronation. "They've arrested six of our organizers and seized hundreds of placards, they won't tell us why they've arrested them or where they're being held," a Republic activist told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in London's Trafalgar Square, reported Daily Sabah.
The chief executive of Republic, Graham Smith was collecting "Not My King" placards from the demonstrators in Trafalgar Square, which was the main site of the protest, when he was arrested by the police on the Strand in central London. Pictures that were posted by the Republic group depict demonstrators in yellow “Not My King” T-shirts as they were being stopped by the police. The gathering had been walking behind a rental van which was full of hundreds of placards when they were suddenly halted by the police.
So much for the right to peaceful protest #NotMyKing #AbolishTheMonarchy pic.twitter.com/mA81kmnNtD— Republic (@RepublicStaff) May 6, 2023
According to Guardian, a director at Republic, Harry Stratton, who was also held by the police, said, “They were collecting the placards and bringing them over when the police stopped them. 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. It is a surprise as we had a number of meetings with the police. They had been making all the right noises.” The group Alliance of European Republican Movements was also present at the location and questioned a senior police officer about why the group had been arrested. "They're under arrest. End of," the officer told them, walking off.
The organisers of the #notmyking protest have been arrested - police won’t say what for pic.twitter.com/qu5JgNhCgF— Alliance of European Republican Movements (@AERMorg) May 6, 2023
The people from Republic were arrested around 7.30 am, while hundreds of anti-monarchist demonstrators wearing "Not My King" yellow t-shirts and holding large flags were ready to carry on the protest silently on the coronation day. The protests were right next to London’s oldest statue of Charles I, the monarch who lost his head to Republicans nearly 400 years ago. Unfortunately, people dissenting against the coronation of Charles III were heavily outnumbered. The sight of 11,500 police officers guarding the Coronation, the biggest police operation seen in the United Kingdom as per Daily Mail, was not completely comforting to all the protestors who were gathered for the demonstration.
“Some were shouting ‘burn the yellow flags’ earlier but we have had intimidation before – there were eggs thrown in 2012. People can get very angry with Republicans," said Maria Gomez, 39, from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire to Guardian. Radical Haslam, 29, a student from Manchester, said he would be “staying safe with the others” at Trafalgar Square, but some were planning to stand in other positions along the procession route “to make our feelings known," the news outlet reported.