It’s been a strange few weeks. Since I was arrested in Oxford on 11th September for objecting to the proclamation of Charles Windsor as king, I’ve barely had chance to pause and process what is happening.
People are unfairly arrested all the time. I’m very conscious that, as a middle-aged white man, I’m not in the demographic most likely to be arrested. Most people who are wrongfully arrested attract far less media attention than I have done, and yet their experience matters at least as much as mine. Monarchy clashes with democracy, and police at royal events seem particularly keen to arrest protestors, as we saw on the day of William Windsor’s wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011.
Around the same time that I was arrested in Oxford, police arrested (and threatened to arrest) other anti-monarchists in Edinburgh and London. I am surprised, but glad, that these arrests became a topic of media debate.
As I’ve said many times, this isn’t about me. It’s about the civil liberties we should all have, the appallling realities of police power and police behaviour, and the way that monarchy suppresses democracy.
I owe many, many thanks to everyone who has supported me in recent weeks, including the friends who have helped me, the lawyers and campaign groups who have advised me and the thousands of people who have sent me supportive messages. I really don’t feel I deserve some of the praise that has come my way. I didn’t do much except for expressing an opinion in the street; were it not for the police deciding that this was grounds to arrest me, hardly anyone would know that I had done it.
I like to reply to all the messages I recieve, so am sorry that I have not been able to do so because of the sheer volume of them: I had over 3,500 responses on Twitter to my original tweet about my arrest, for example. I am not used to this!
I have received some messages from people politely disagreeing with me, who I try to engage with. I’ve also received a good number of abusive messages. Some accuse me of disrupting an act of mourning (I didn’t; I objected to Charles being declared king). Others suggest that I should be hanged for treason or sent to the Tower of London (well, it is a nice day out). Some call me names (I think “trolling anti-monarchy Marxist clown” is my favourite; it’s certainly more creative than “wanker”). A few, noticing from my Twitter bio that I am bisexual, take a homophobic or biphobic line (“Why don’t you stick to sucking cock?” asked one person, apparently unaware that it’s possible both to object to monarchy and suck cock, though I admit I’ve never tried to do both at once).
Some people – both Christians and others – have asked how my Christian faith fits with my opposition to monarchy. For me, they are closely connected. For those who have asked me about this, you can find my interview with Premier Christian Radio here, in which I discuss how my faith motivates my opposition to monarchy. The Beer Christianity podcast also kindly invited me to discuss the issue at more length (apparently being teetotal doesn’t exclude me!). I was honoured to be interviewed by them as I’m a fan of their podcast generally.
I am not egotistical enough to imagine that lots of people want to read more about my arrest and my beliefs! However, a few people have kindly asked me about my motivations, so I’m posting some links to some of the interviews in which I was able to go into them a bit more. I wrote about my motivations and beliefs in an article for the i newspaper, and discussed them in interviews with The Face, Tribune and National World. I spoke more about the origin of my views with Jacobin magazine, who also interviewed Mariángela, who was arrested in Edinburgh for holding an “Abolish Monarchy” sign. In the interview, Mariángela said more about her own motivations and her surprise at being so outrageously and unfairly arrested.
I am determined to continue joining with many other republicans to challenge monarchy as we approach Charles Windsor’s coronation. The barely-elected Prime Minister Liz Truss is now blatantly throwing money at the very rich while millions of people fear going cold or hungry this winter. The need to assert the equal value of all human lives is as strong as ever. I do not think this is compatible with a system whereby we bow down to someone and call him “your majesty” because his ancestors violently seized power. I have written more about this in a new piece for the i paper, which I will also post on here.
As always, questions, comments and constructive disagreements are welcome. If you wish to say that I should be sent to the Tower of London, however, please specify whether I should be obliged to pay the entrance fee.