The head of the UK’s leading republican movement and five other organisers of an anti-monarchist protest at the coronation have been arrested on King Charles III’s procession route.
Graham Smith, the chief executive of Republic, had been collecting drinks and placards for demonstrators at the main site of the protest on Trafalgar Square when he was detained by police on the Strand in central London.
The group had been walking behind a rental van full of hundreds of placards when they were stopped by police. The Met police had tweeted earlier this week that they would have a “low tolerance” of those seeking to “undermine” the day.
Harry Stratton, a director at Republic, who arrived as Smith and the others were detained, said: “They were collecting the placards and bringing them over when the police stopped them.
“The guys asked why and they were told: we will tell you that once we have searched the vehicle. That’s when they arrested the six organisers. We asked on what grounds they had been arrested but they wouldn’t say. It is a surprise as we had had a number of meetings with the police. They had been making all the right noises.”
The arrest, at about 7.30am, came as hundreds of anti-monarchist protesters had gathered at Trafalgar square with large flags and wearing yellow T-shirts as they looked to catch both the eye of the world’s media and a king on his coronation day.
dizzy: I have been concerned at the recent attacks on the right to protest by the UK government. These excessive powers need to be defeated so that the right to protest is respected.