In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, at least two people in the United Kingdom have been arrested in separate incidents for protesting the British royal family.
Author and activist Symon Hill, 45, said he was arrested for protesting King Charles III's ascension to the throne, in what Hill called "an outrageous assault on democracy."
Hill told the Independent he shouted, “Who elected him?” when Charles III was officially proclaimed king.
"It was only when they declared Charles to be 'King Charles III' that I called out 'Who elected him?'" Hill said. "I doubt most of the people in the crowd even heard me. Two or three people near me told me to shut up."
A police spokesperson responded to news of the arrest, saying, “A 45-year-old man was arrested in connection with a disturbance that was caused during the county proclamation ceremony of King Charles III in Oxford. He has subsequently been de-arrested and is engaging with us voluntarily as we investigate a public order offence. The man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence [under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986].”
Section 5 applies to behavior deemed likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress, according to the Guardian.
Hill remained defiant, stating, “The police abused their powers to arrest someone who voiced some mild opposition to a head of state being appointed undemocratically.”
In Scotland, police arrested a 22-year-old woman holding a sign that said "fuck imperialism, abolish the monarchy" outside St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, where Queen Elizabeth II is currently lying at rest.
A police spokesperson confirmed the arrest of a 22-year-old woman "in connection with a breach of peace." According to the Independent, she was charged under a 2010 law that covers actions “likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm.” Police told BuzzFeed News that the woman was arrested for her alleged behavior, not because of the anti-monarchy sign.
Asked about the incidents, the prime minister’s official spokesperson responded, “This is a period of national mourning for the vast, vast majority of the country, but the fundamental right to protest remains the keystone of our democracy.”
In reaction to the police response, Silkie Carlo, the director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, told the Independent, “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.”