I was arrested after asking “who elected him?” at the proclamation of King Charles
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.
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There is a time and place for everything, and at the moment it is not it , unless you are looking to poke the bear and then moan about being bitten by the bear. I’m sure there is some artistic license in your take on the events that took place. I’m all about freedom of speech and cancel culture is way out of control but taking this approach does not help the sensible debate.
Let me ask you a question … if I turned up at the funeral of your mother and yelled from the back what I thought of her son, would I be breaking the law? I don’t know, but I do know that it would be completely disrespectful to both you and your mother.
This debacle isn’t about freedom of speech, police states or monarchy. You should have respect for the passing of this person as a human being and her family, but instead you put your personal politics and desire to elevate yourself ahead of this, whilst at the same time angering hundreds of people who simply wanted to show their respect. I suspect that your ‘arrest’ was equally for your own protection!
Once the state funeral has past then tie yourself to the gates of Buckingham Palace and protest to your hearts content.
100% agree with you.
Bless you Andy
I admire your protest. It asked an intelligent question and met with a brutish response. Anyone knows the best way to defeat and argument is to ignore it, not to suppress it. So some people were upset. Is that supposed to be a Police matter? All those who are saying you needed to respect the atmosphere are forgetting significant historical moments when a few disempowered individuals spoke their truth to power. It was the right word at the right moment, and the fact they arrested you proves that. It proves that the idea of a republic is so scary that people will violently suppress it. Such people have no understanding of history.
You people and your absurd monarchy. At times I feel all is lost in the USA regarding free speech and then I read this coming out of the cradle of US culture, government and law, and I realize things can get much worse.
USA Gun culture, Trump etc. Don’t make me laugh
UK is a facist country with imperialist regime.
That you are able to write that comrade without fear of persecution or prosecution shows our nation is the opposite of your statement.
Good job you live in a country that allows you to, within reason, to speak your mind.
From the report, this was genuine shouted opinion at a proclamation, not a burial service. He had every right to make the comment. The way the whole sad week has been conducted,with the tv and radio channels switched to one channel,the announcement of a non hereditary title passed to William without consultation with the Welsh Government. And the visit by Charles to Wales on Owain Glyndŵr day shows an Establishment British coup.
Yet you say you will protest at the Coronation . Show some respect .
Respect for a family who stole all they have . They are worse than the mafia.
Dear Mr Hill,
I was one of those on the podium in Oxford yesterday (wearing an ordinary suit). I heard your protest. I think you understate yourself in saying you “called” your comment, which I heard clearly. I’d say you yelled. From what I could see (and I had a better view than you did) you offended quite a few people. I’m sorry you were arrested. I respect your right to hold, and express, your views. And in a free country we all have the right to say things which others find offensive. But if we all do that whenever we feel like it then things will get pretty chaotic won’t they? With good wishes,
Daft that you were arrested, but have you no sensitivity to atmosphere?!
Two things to point out, the first is your statement “Any death is sad and I would not object to people mourning.” I am not sure you have any powers to stop people from mourning anyway.
Second: An elected head of state is why we have a government and a parliamentary system. The Royal Family do not enact any political policy and are therefore not there to govern. So not sure what the purpose of your protest was.
The Police would have arrested you for disturbing the peace and quite rightly causing distress to others, which is not much different to you shouting over the garden fence annoying your neighbours. If you are not happy with Police Laws, then you need to raise this with your elected MP not with King Charles as he cannot change any laws to suit individuals.
I disagree with your response. You are missing g the point. Had you shouted that at the time.e, back to him, you would have been arrested too.
The point he is making is simply that a further law has been snuck in to disallow the comman man to make a point of view.
The only positive here is that it is being discussed and hopefully questioned whether the new law is against human rights in the UK.
I agree that the legislation under which your arrest might have been made is outrageous and very worrying. The fact that the current elected government is capable of the creation of this and other draconian legislation let alone their actions towards the disabled and poor in this country is not a great advert for democracy. I think it is the nun’s prayer that tells us to understand what we can change and focus on making those changes.
I am not a royalist – but I cannot think of a better system and as it stands our head of state has been benign even if the family is somewhat poisonous. However the government we have is far from benign – and we elected them. I wish you the very best of luck – but we need you to focus on what you can change, for which you have my full support.
Thank you, very well put. I share you’d views. The electorate need to vote more wisely next time around.
I suppose some people just find it incredibly impossible to “keep quite”? The uncontrollable urge to speak out bubbling inside of them, regardless of the occasion! The lack of self control and then the complete surprise when views are not the same as yours. No doubt this planned attention seeking will try to build momentum via twitter and thick-tok.
I’m sure there is more to life than being offended so easily over something you have no control.
I beg you, please take legal action against the police force. We need precedents and they can’t get away with it.
Kudos to you for your courage!
Take care, greetings from Switzerland! Xx
We have arrived at a police state
Let’s not exaggerate. We, the electorate, have the power to stop a government, not the King. Put pressure on your MP to question this kind of police power, and build momentum for a real campaign. Disrupting a solemn and ancient ceremony won’t get you very far.
Just another anarchist.
You need to grow up.
Shared into FB ‘Oxford Community’. This is appalling and very illuminating of our British system.
Thanks for taking the time to share this outrageous experience . Deeply, deeply worrying if – as it appears to be- your arrest was a result of deliberate use of new powers and senior police instructions , rather than an individual policeman’s mistaken interpretation. Above all the Kafka-esque lack of clear reasons given is completely unacceptable. I’m sure others reading this will also encourage you not to let the matter drop; hopefully find some free legal support to assert your most basic rights of free speech and transparency of policing. Please keep us updated.