Three days ahead of the coronation of Charles III, the new Public Order Bill, with many restrictions on the right to protest, became law. The anti-monarchist campaign, Republic, and other groups, including Extinction Rebellion, were sent a letter by the home office warning that these new powers had been brought forward to prevent ‘disruption at major sporting and cultural events’.
Describing the letter as intimidatory, Republic announced that it would not be deterred from protesting.
During the coronation procession in London on 6 May, the police said, 64 arrests had been made for affray, breach of the peace and conspiracy to commit a public nuisance. The fact that the police subsequently seemingly dropped all charges against the 64 suggests the evidence was flimsy.
Among those arrested were six members of Republic who also had their ‘Not My King’ placards impounded.
The six, who were unloading the placards from a rented van, seem to have been arrested under new ‘causing public nuisance’ laws, but were later questioned for ‘going equipped to lock-on’. The police had found straps inside the van which they said could have been used by the protesters to attach themselves to each other or to other objects (locking-on).
Arrested at 7.30am, the six were held at a police station till late on Saturday night.
Three council volunteers from ‘Night Stars’ had been arrested earlier, at 2am, after they were found to be carrying rape alarms, for distributing to vulnerable women, but which the police considered could be used to frighten the king’s horses.
Around 20 members of Just Stop Oil were also arrested, apparently just for wearing ‘Just Stop Oil’ T-shirts. An Australian monarchist standing near these JSO activists was also arrested and held for 13 hours.
Labour leader Keir Starmer refused to condemn the arrests.
One outcome of the heavy- handed policing at the coronation was a boost in Republic’s membership, from 5,000 to 9,000, and in its funds, from £47,000 on the day of the coronation to £91,000 eight days later.