I had not planned to protest today. To be honest, I’m tired and lacking in energy after not being well lately. And I am not some sort of heroic campaigner who rushes round resisting without rest. I am a lot less energetic and dedicated than some people seem to imagine!
I knew that Charles Windsor would be declared “King Charles III” in official ceremonies around the UK today. I had assumed they would be fairly small-scale. Yesterday, a good friend discouraged me from protesting because she was concerned about my health. I reluctantly agreed that she had a point.
It was only when I went to church this morning that I learnt that there was not only a proclamation in Oxford but a procession that would start just outside our church. I was feeling sad and angry as I left church and walked past the cordoned off streets and saw the dignitaries and military leaders standing on the steps of Carfax Tower in clothing more suited to the sixteenth century. This, apparently, is how we proclaim a new head of state in twenty-first century Britain.
After making slow progress along the pavement, I asked the police how I could get across to the other side as the road was closed off. When I expressed a mild criticism of the royal procession during my question about the road closures, they became defensive and refused to talk with me further. Someone who had heard me came over and challenged my views, but the police told us not to talk to each other. I have no idea on what basis the police stop people with different views having a discussion.
I paused briefly to look at a couple of things on my phone, before realising they were about to read out the proclamation. I had previously doubted whether I wanted to stay and hear it, but I was there now. I remained quiet in the first part of the proclamation, concerning the death of Elizabeth. Any death is sad and I would not object to people mourning.
It was only when they declared Charles to be “King Charles III” that I called out “Who elected him?” I doubt most of the people in the crowd even heard me. Two or three people near me told me to shut up. I didn’t insult them or attack them personally, but responded by saying that a head of state was being imposed on us without our consent.
A security guard appeared, stood right in front of me and told me to be quiet. Two more security guards came along and they tried to push me backwards. As I asked them to give the legal basis for what they were doing, the police came over, more or less moved the security guards out of the way and took hold of me. I was outraged that they were leading me away, but was taken aback when they told me they were arresting me. I have no illusions about the police’s questionable relationship with the law, but I seemed to have been arrested for nothing more than expressing an opinion in public. They gave me confused answers when I asked on what grounds I had been arrested.
As the police led me away, I heard people asking them why I was being arrested. Eventually I realised that two men were walking along beside them demanding answers about it. I heard one of them say, “I don’t agree with him but surely he’s got a right to his views? Isn’t this a free country?” (or similar words). These two people – not activists, not anti-monarchy – were giving a fine example of excellent citizenship by speaking up when they saw the police abusing their powers. I have no idea who they were, but their actions really cheered me.
Eventually I was handcuffed – I don’t know what sort of threat they thought I posed – and put in the back of a police van. A police officer got in the van and took my details. After lots of conversations on his radio he said I would be de-arrested but that they would want to interview me. I said I would do so only with a lawyer present. After some more radio conversations he told me I would be de-arrested and then contacted to be interviewed at a later date, and possibly charged.
I was then driven home in the police van. At this point, I had still not been given a clear answer as to why I had been arrested.
At first I was told that the sergeant who had arrested me would know the reason. This was an appalling answer. Eventually, on the way home, I was told that I had been arrested under the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act 2022 (the outrageous act passed earlier this year) for actions likely to lead to “harassment or distress”.
I would be surprised if anyone among the few people who had heard me felt harassed or distressed by encountering an opinion that they may have disagreed with.
It took me a while – and a cup of tea, and conversations with people I live with – before I posted on Twitter about what had happened. Most responses were sympathetic and outraged. Some of the more hostile ones accused me of doing all this for the sake of self-promotion. This is impossible: the actions I had taken were unlikely to lead to my arrest and I was very surprised to be arrested.
While I am determined to speak out about this unjust arrest, and about the unfairness of monarchy, I would much rather be doing other things today. I would rather not have spent much of the afternoon trying to calm down and stop shaking as I answered media calls, supportive messages and abusive tweets. I would rather not spend tomorrow morning phoning a lawyer. I would much rather get on with all the things I needed to do anyway. This did not happen because of some cunning plan on my part, but because the police abused their powers to arrest someone who voiced some mild opposition to a head of state being appointed undemocratically.
What other freedoms can be suppressed in the name of monarchy? Who else will be arrested under the vile Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act? I am relatively lucky: I will not be sacked from my job as a result of being arrested, or experience some of the consequences that others may face. If fear of arrest deters people from expressing their views, then these vile laws and draconian atmosphere will have significantly reduced free expression and harmed democracy, whether or not people are charged.
This isn’t about me. It’s about our freedom to choose our own system of government, to elect our own leaders and to express our own views. I’m not asking you to support me. I’m asking you to support democracy.
The above article was originally published by Bright Green, who got in touch with me after my arrest and kindly asked me to write about it.
Symon merely to say well done and well spoken and that the treatment of you was utterly despicable. A message of simple solidarity. Best wishes Mark
Thanks very much, Mark. Solidarity!
Oh but it is about you–today. Why not just stick to sucking cock?
I’m an American, and if I’d been there you’d need a few days “in hospital”…
Threatening violence against someone because you disagree with what they say hardly does much to advance your cause.
I think your protest and remarks were disgusting and irresponsible. Britain is a Monarchy and should always remain so. This is not the time to protest it is about mourning and sorrow for our beloved Queen.
I respect your right to free speech. respect other peoples rights to defend our Monarchy and our Country.
I would defend the King to my end and made that wow at tbe age of sixteen when you were not even a glint in your father’s eye.
Thanks, Jim, for saying you respect my right to free speech. I of course respect your right to free sppech, and your right to promote your belief in monarchy.
I also respect the fact that people are mourning. I did not interrupt an act of mourning. I objected to the appointment of Charles Windsor as king.
You speak of “our monarchy and our country” as if the two things were the same. Charles Windsor is king simply because his ancestors violently seized power. His ancestor William the Conqueror invaded England. I don’t see anything patriotic in wanting the British people to have a head of state appointed on this basis.
I’m genuinely interested to know what makes you want to defend the Windsor family, at 16 (I assume you joined the armed forces?) or any other age.
When you refer to me not having been a glint in my father’s eye, I’m wondering how old you imagine me to be? Is it guesswork or have you seen my age mentioned in the coverage? (Fair enough if so, and if you’re over 62).
You should be thoroughly ashamed of your behaviour, at the centre of all this is a family who has lost their beloved mother and grandmother, how would you like your mothers funeral disrupted or someone shouting out horrible things. This is not the time or place to behave in the most insensitive way. Hand your head in shame and reflect upon your actions before going to confession.
I did not disrupt a funeral or an act of mourning and would never do so. I objected to the proclamation of Charles as king.
When you say I shouted at “horrible things”, which words of mine are you referring to? I did not insult Elizabeth. I did not even insult Charles. I objected to his appointment. I did not swear or behave aggressively towards anyone.
Of course I respect that the Windsor family are grieving. That does not mean that it is OK to impose a head of state on us without our consent. If they had held off declaring Charles to be king until after his mother’s funeral, then I would have held off objecting until then.
If it’s an acceptable time to announce something, it’s an acceptable time to object to it. Otherwise, you’re saying that one political viewpoint can be expressed but not another, which is clearly a supression of debate and democracy.
For a thousand years the new monarch is declared on the death of the previous post holder, knowing this reality and then trying to use it as a defence of timing is absurd, as you could have anticipated this reality.
You show no contrition and seek to defend the indefensible.
You should be cancelled and feel the full force of social opprobrium.
I’m aware of the tradition that the new monarch is declared when the previous one dies. That is precisely what I was objecting to.
Is this what you wanted, you petulant child? Attention and clicks to your website? If there was a vote on whether to lock trollish, anti-monarchy, Marxist clowns like you in the Tower of London indefinitely I would 100% vote for that. If you fancy living somewhere that isn’t a monarchy, you could feel free to go live elsewhere. Ireland are taking in a stupid amount of immigrants at the minute and share your anti-royal sentiments, maybe?
No, it isn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want, or expect, to be arrested. I would rather not have been arrested, regardless of any trivial effect in terms of clicks on my blog site. Lots of people are unfairly arrested all the time, and most of them receive far less attention than I have done. I owe it to them to speak up about wrongful arrests, not to promote myself.
I’m sorry to hear that you would vote to lock people up for their opinions. I am confident that most people in Britain would never vote for such a thing. It is precisely because I love Britain, and want to live here, that I wish to see it be more democratic. If everybody who disagreed with an aspect of their country’s political system left the country, then nowhere would ever change.
I find it sad that someone can call themselves a Christian and make comments like that .Also who are you teaching History to ? Last time I checked The Royal Family is not elected. Your friend was right you must be gravely ill if you are teaching History but do NOT seem to understand how The Royal Family works. See a Dr. please you are very ill
Thanks, Susan, for your concern for my health. I teach history for the Workers’ Educational Association. I am very aware of how the monarchy works; that’s precisely what I was objecting to.
Well done and thank you.
Thanks very much.