Entertainment figures and politicians react to republican arrests during Queen Elizabeth II mourning period

"People should be able to express their views as a basic right," said Jeremy Corbyn

Figures in the entertainment world and beyond have reacted to a number of arrests made this week during the national period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.

Yesterday (September 12) a 22-year-old man was arrested in Edinburgh after heckling the late Queen’s son, the Duke of York, as he walked behind her coffin.

Police Scotland said that the man, who was caught on camera shouting “You’re a sick old man” at Prince Andrew was detained “in connection with a breach of the peace on the Royal Mile”. He has since been charged.

At the weekend (Sunday September 11), Police Scotland also arrested a 22-year-old woman who held a sign up that read “Fuck imperialism, abolish monarchy” ahead of the accession proclamation of King Charles III. She has also been charged under a 2010 law that covers “behaviour likely to cause person to suffer fear or alarm”.

In Oxford on Sunday (September 11), a man named Symon Hill said that he happened to be passing the King’s proclamation in the city centre and shouted “Who elected him?”. Hill was then arrested.

Thames Valley Police said [via Sky News]: “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.”

Elsewhere, a barrister posted video footage appearing to show an officer accosting him for holding up a blank piece of paper at Parliament Square in London. Paul Powlesland later tweeted that the officer “confirmed that if I wrote ‘Not My King’ on it, he would arrest me under the Public Order Act because someone might be offended”.

The arrests have raised questions about striking the balance between freedom of speech and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act. The act became law this year and gives police more power to disrupt protests that are deemed to cause “significant impact” to people in close proximity.

A government factsheet states that “impact” is defined as intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress, with the police then having to consider whether the impact is “significant”.

In the case of the period of mourning, police are giving consideration as to whether anti-royalist protesting is impacting mourners in a “significant” way.

Mogwai‘s Stuart Braithwaite is one of the figures in the entertainment world that has expressed solidarity with those who have been arrested or charged.

“I think in solidarity with the Edinburgh One we should all put #NotMyKing signs in our windows. Are they gonna come in to our house and lift us? They can bloody try,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

Comedian David Baddiel wrote online: “The idea that there can be only one way to respond in the event of a monarch’s death, and that any individual thinking or behaving differently is a shocking outrage, comes from another time, that we do not live in.

“Veneration of the monarchy has always been a state religion in the UK. Which is fine for those who wish to follow it, but not if adherence to that religion becomes imposed medievally.”

Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden expressed shock at a video showing an anti-monarchist being led away by police in London. However, the person in the video was not arrested but was moved on by police because, per The Telegraph, they were blocking gates required for vehicle access.

In politics, Labour MP Zarah Sultana said “no-one should be arrested for just expressing republican views”, while former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The arrests of republican protestors is wrong, anti-democratic and an abuse of the law. People should be able to express their views as a basic right.”

See more reactions from the worlds of entertainment and politics below.

Downing Street has defended the right of republican protesters to voice dissent about the monarchy after police forces’ string of interventions.

Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in for the late Queen, who died on Thursday (September 8) at the age of 96.

The late British monarch knighted many musicians and actors over the decades, including Mick Jagger, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Michael Palin and Anthony Hopkins.

In his tribute, Elton John wrote: “Along with the rest of the nation, I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s passing. She was an inspiring presence to be around and led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace, decency and a genuine caring warmth.

“Queen Elizabeth has been a huge part of my life from childhood to this day, and I will miss her dearly.”

Mick Jagger said: “For my whole life Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has always been there. In my childhood I can recall watching her wedding highlights on TV. I remember her as a beautiful young lady, to the much beloved grandmother of the nation.

“My deepest sympathies are with the Royal family.”

See more tributes here, with varying responses from members of Sex Pistols here.

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in June, and in turn became the second longest-serving monarch in history – second to Louis XIV of France who became king at four years old. She was 27 at the time of her official coronation in 1953, after succeeding to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25.

Overall, the Queen swore in 15 UK Prime Ministers during her 70 years on the throne including the newly appointed PM Liz Truss.

Queen Elizbaeth II’s funeral will take place on Monday September 19, and has been declared a Bank Holiday.

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