British police face criticism from civil liberties groups today over their treatment of anti-monarchy protesters who have publicly challenged King Charles III’s accession to the throne and the groundswell of public support for the royal family.
Footage went viral on social media on Monday of a female protester holding aloft a “Not My King” placard who was confronted by at least four officers outside the UK parliament in London.
She was seen being escorted away from the spot, and was reportedly made to stand at another location away from the gates of parliament.
Lawyer and climate activist Paul Powlesland also wrote on Twitter that he had been warned by an officer that he risked arrest after he held up a blank piece of paper opposite parliament.
????An anti-Royal protestor holding a poster with the slogan ‘Not my king’ has been pictured being led away by police ???? pic.twitter.com/qsur4TT6vz
— Evening Standard (@standardnews) September 12, 2022
“He confirmed that if I wrote, ‘Not My King’ on it, he would arrest me under the Public Order Act because someone might be offended,” he wrote alongside video showing him talking to an officer.
Britain is in national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, with the death of the 96-year-old monarch provoking a rare moment of national unity amid an outpouring of sympathy for the royals.
But it has also raised questions about the space for dissent, with several civil liberties groups warning that police are failing to respect the rights of the small minority of anti-monarchists.
“If people are being arrested simply for holding protest placards then it is an affront to democracy and highly likely to be unlawful,” Big Brother Watch says in a statement.
“Police officers have a duty to protect people’s right to protest as much as they have a duty to facilitate people’s right to express support, sorrow, or pay their respects.”