'Who elected him?’: Man arrested for potentially causing ‘distress’ during King Charles III proclamation

13 September 2022, 10:26 | Updated: 13 September 2022, 10:29

Protester says his arrest at King Charles proclamation is ‘suppression of democracy’

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

Man who was arrested for shouting anti-monarchist views tells Tom Swarbrick, “I seem to be arrested for expressing an opinion.”

A man was arrested in Oxford on Sunday after expressing anti-monarchist views during King Charles III’s proclamation.

Symon Hill called out: “Who elected him?”

He was promptly handcuffed and put in a police van.

The protester told Tom Swarbrick that he was walking home from church through streets that were “difficult to negotiate” due to being cordoned off for the procession and proclamation.

Read more: Queen’s coffin procession route through London revealed

He then asked the police how to get home via a different route.

“The proclamation began, people in these sort of medieval costumes standing on the steps…they began with a comment expressing grief for the previous monarch and of course I respect that, I wouldn’t interrupt anything about anybody’s grief.

Read more: Scotland's final goodbye: Mourners bid farewell to Queen before she leaves country for the last time

“But then when they came to tell us that Charles III was our only rightful lord and king, I found that a bit hard to stomach in a 21st-century democracy, and I called out ‘Who elected him?’”

He said he was “just expressing a view.”

Police told him he was arrested “under the Police Act, the recent act passed a few months ago, for action likely to lead to harassment, alarm or distress”.

Hill said he has now been “dearrested”, but that he may be called back for further questioning and could be charged, adding that the police were “unsure themselves [on] the grounds for the arrest.”

The anti-monarchist added: “They actually gave a different explanation as to which law it was under, so they seemed quite confused themselves, but I don’t think I caused anybody alarm or distress.”

Tom argued: “Well you might have done, I guess the point is you don’t know.”

Hill responded: “Well most people didn’t even hear me and to be honest I do think that most people can cope with hearing a view they disagree with without being distressed or alarmed.”

He went on to say: “I didn’t disturb anything to do with mourning and grief for the previous Queen.”

Read more: Ready for Her Majesty's final parade: Troops stage dawn rehearsal as details of funeral route released

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“In Britain we have a proud tradition of campaigning for free speech and democracy and if in the 21st century we have to accept being told who our lord and king is without being able to question it, that’s very worrying.”

Tom countered: “Time and place though, isn’t it Symon?”

In response Hill said: “The time and place was the time and place when he was being proclaimed as king. So if you can’t object when somebody is being proclaimed to be your head of state, then when can you object?”

He also said some pro-monarchists were saying things such as: “I don’t agree with him but surely he’s got a right to free speech.”

“If this sort of behaviour by the police goes on, whether or not someone agrees with me about monarchy, their rights too are being threatened.”

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