Labour MP reveals King Charles gesture after 2011 riots which means he'll swear allegiance

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 5: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales speaks to husband and wife Mehmet and Burcin Akbasak with their twin daughters 12-month-old Kayla and Lara, whose flat above the Carpetright building was destroyed in the riots as the Prince visits Tottenham on February 5, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Edwards-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
King Charles on a visit to Tottenham in 2014. The then-prince is pictured speaking to Mehmet and Burcin Akbasak, whose flat was destroyed in the riots. (Getty Images)

Senior Labour shadow minister David Lammy has said he will pledge allegiance to King Charles because of his gratitude for helping his constituency recover from the 2011 riots.

Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary and Tottenham MP, said the then-Prince of Wales visited his area five times in the aftermath of the riots, which he said meant “the stigma that can sometimes attach to an area that has riots did not attach to us”.

The unrest in 2011 followed the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham. What began as a protest against his killing in that part of north London turned into a full-scale riot that spread across London, and other major English cities, over five days. It involved 15,000 people and included looting, with businesses and vehicles set ablaze.

Ahead of the King’s coronation on Saturday, Lammy set out on the BBC’s Question Time why he will swear allegiance to the King.

“Let me just tell you why I’ll do it, and why I think my constituents will. Back in 2011 when the riots started in my constituency, it was a horrible, horrible time. I was aware it was the second time Tottenham had had riots in a generation [after the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot].

“I got phone calls from the then-prime minister David Cameron, the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the opposition Ed Miliband… they all came to Tottenham - they never came back.”

This was an open criticism of his colleague Miliband, who now serves in the same shadow cabinet as Lammy.

Lammy went on: “I also got a phone call from the Prince of Wales. I asked him if he could come... and I said: ‘Will you come back?’ He said: ‘Of course.’ He came back five times. He brought the Prince’s Trust, he brought the Prince’s Foundation.

A police officer sets up a cordon around a burnt-out shop on High Road in Tottenham, north London on August 7, 2011. Two police cars and a large number of buildings were on Saturday set ablaze in north London following a protest over the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man in an armed stand-off with officers. The patrol cars were torched as dozens gathered outside the police station on the High Road in Tottenham.AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
The aftermath of riots in Tottenham in August 2011. (AFP via Getty Images)

“He was there for the community and it meant the stigma that can sometimes attach to an area that has riots did not attach to us. For that I am grateful, I think he will make a good King, and that’s why I will be swearing allegiance.”

The overall riots led to the deaths of five people, and Lammy has previously said they were the “darkest, toughest and bleakest days of the 21 years that I have been in public life”.

Charles’s coronation will include the first “Homage of the People”, a modern addition to the ancient ceremony that will see people across the UK and overseas realms invited to swear an oath of allegiance to Charles.

But it’s something his close friend, broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, said the King will find “abhorrent”.

Watch: King to be layered in golden garments for moment of crowning

Dimbleby got to know Charles after writing his official biography in the 1990s and said his “thespian” side means he has been closely involved in the performance side of the coronation.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I can think of nothing that he would find more abhorrent.

“He’s never wanted to be revered, he’s never wanted – so as far as I know – to have anyone pay homage to him except in mock terms as a joke.

Read more: Where are the coronation protests on Saturday?

“He wants, I think, to feel that people will share in the event and I don’t quite know how this might have happened.”

Lambeth Palace last week said the words and actions of the service had been created in consultation with the King, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the government.

Critics have condemned the move, with the pressure group Republic describing the new homage as “offensive, tone deaf and a gesture that holds the people in contempt”.