Arrested anti-monarchy demonstrator ‘will probably protest’ at King’s coronation

·3-min read
Symon Hill was arrested at a public reading of an accession proclamation to the throne (Symon Hill/PA)
Symon Hill was arrested at a public reading of an accession proclamation to the throne (Symon Hill/PA)

An anti-monarchy protester who was arrested after shouting at an accession proclamation for the King has said he will “probably” also demonstrate at the coronation.

Symon Hill, 45, said he was was walking home from church on Sunday when he came across a public formal reading of the proclamation of the accession for Charles in Carfax, Oxford.

Mr Hill, who works part-time at the Peace Pledge Union, a secular pacifist organisation, was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act after shouting “Who elected him?” during the reading.

He was later de-arrested after refusing to be interviewed without a lawyer, and driven home by police.

Mr Hill told the PA news agency: “I’ll continue to say that Charles is not the King, and that I don’t recognise him.

“Whether I’ll be involved in an organised protest, I don’t know.

“I’m not actively organising one, but that isn’t to say I wouldn’t join in if there was something happening.

“I will probably protest at the coronation when it happens. It will be non-violent and directed at the institution rather than personal insults at individuals.”

Mr Hill said he was trying to get home when he came across the accession reading, and that he had not intended to protest.

The activist told PA that he waited until the section of the reading relating to the Queen had passed, as interrupting “an act of mourning is not something I would ever do”.

I find it hard to believe that anyone felt actually distressed by hearing my comment

Symon Hill

He said: “But then when it came to the proclamation of Charles as King… as a 21st century citizen I had a problem with this idea that we would just be told who our rightful lord was.

“So at that point, I called out ‘Who elected him?’

“A couple of people told me to shut up, which was fair enough, and I responded that I thought a head of state was being imposed without consent.

“I didn’t say anything offensive to them personally or offensive to Charles or any other member of his family.

“I think some people ignored me, some people sort of glanced at me, nobody was distressed by it, and actually, I think most people could cope with hearing somebody express an opinion they disagree with.

“I think that’s very different to hate speech – stirring up hatred against somebody or encouraging violence is obviously abhorrent, but being able to hear an opinion we disagree with should be the norm in a democratic society.

“I find it hard to believe that anyone felt actually distressed by hearing my comment.”

Mr Hill said he was initially told to be quiet by three security guards, before being escorted away and arrested by four police officers, who he says he did not resist.

He said: “I am worried that if people are going to get arrested for such a minor action, for expressing an opinion like that, I’m really worried about the effect that has on free speech, because even if people aren’t charged, just the fear of being arrested will deter people, and that’s already restricting free speech whether or not people are actually charged.”

Thames Valley Police said: “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.”

A woman was also arrested on Sunday in Edinburgh after holding an anti-monarchy sign ahead of the accession proclamation.

The 22 year-old was charged in connection with a breach of the peace.