Anti-royal protesters heckle King Charles as he attends Westminster Abbey


Anti-monarchy protesters took to the streets of London this afternoon to heckle King Charles as he attends the Commonwealth Day ceremony. 

Activists from campaign group Republic gathered outside Westminster Abbey, ahead of the monarch’s attendance for the service today. 

It was the first time the King attended the commemoration as head of state, with the 74-year-old monarch delivering a message from the abbey’s Great Pulpit.

But protesters armed with placards saying ‘Not My King’ massed outside the building in their latest demonstration against the Royal Family, and chanted the phrase as Charles arrived.

It comes just days after they booed the royal the King and Queen Consort as they visited Colchester in Essex.

The group, which has ramped up its rallies against His Majesty ahead of his May coronation, has branded the King as ‘just a bloke in a suit who’s spending lots of our money’.

Dozens of protesters have gathered outside Westminster Abbey ahead of the King’s appearance there today to mark the Commonwealth Day ceremony

Activists from Republic (pictured) rallied holding placards saying 'not my king' as part of their latest protest against the monarch ahead of his coronation in May

Activists from Republic (pictured) rallied holding placards saying ‘not my king’ as part of their latest protest against the monarch ahead of his coronation in May 

Republic’s chief executive Graham Smith said Charles should be criticised like any other politician – but in an attempt to explain why the group was organising more protests against the King than his late mother, admitted: ‘The Queen enjoyed deference and it put people off criticising her directly. We were aware heckling her wouldn’t go down well’.

Meet three of the team involved in Republic 

GRAHAM SMITH, chief executive

 

Graham Smith, 48, is possibly the most well-known republican in Britain, and he has campaigned against the monarchy for 20 years. His group, Republic, was set up in 1983 but has gained momentum and supporters in recent years after being formally set up as a limited company in 2006. He recently labelled King Charles as ‘just a bloke in a suit who’s spending lots of our money’ but admitted heckling the Queen ‘wouldn’t have gone down well’.

GULLY BUJAK, protest organiser

 

Gully Bujak is an experienced climate change protest organiser who has been convicted of criminal acts during Extinction Rebellion eco protests. She is also a privately-educated model and actress and former junior head girl at Stover School in Devon – where her father used to be headmaster.

BEN CLINTON 

 

Ben Clinton is campaign co-ordinator for ‘Labour for a Republic’, a republican pressure group within the Labour Party. He has previously written for the Morning Star and is a councillor on the parish council in Peasmarsh, East Sussex. He also spoke in favour of proportional representation at the Labour Party conference in 2021.

Mr Smith – who was spotted today outside Westminister Abbey – last week told MailOnline: ‘Charles is a very different person. He just inherited the throne and inheritance is an issue.

‘We think now is the right moment for us to push our message. We did protest the Queen, such as at the 2012 Jubilee. 

‘Other people certainly had a greater level of respect for the Queen. The Queen enjoyed deference and it put people off criticising her directly. We were aware heckling her wouldn’t go down well.

‘But everything has changed, it’s a very different monarchy. This has changed the nature of the campaign.’

The group believe hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle and ultimately want to abolish the monarchy.

Instead, they want head of state that is chosen by the public and keeps politicians in check.

Mr Smith continued: ‘If you think politicians are fair game for heckling and protests, you should see Charles in the same way. The Queen felt like the real deal. Charles is just a bloke in a suit who’s spending lots of our money.

‘He should be treated like a politician. Heads of state should be fair game for criticism.’

The display comes as senior members of the Royal Family are due to gather with the King in the Abbey where he will be crowned in two months’ time.

The Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales will be there, with the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

Afterwards, Charles, Camilla and the attending members of the royal family will entertain the Commonwealth secretary-general, high commissioners, foreign affairs ministers and other members of the Commonwealth community at a Buckingham Palace reception.

The annual service was the scene of Harry and the Duchess of Sussex’s final official public engagement as senior working royals in 2020.

The couple, who stepped down for a new life in the US, have yet to confirm whether they will attend the King’s coronation, but have received email correspondence about it from Charles’ office.

Republic's chief executive Graham Smith (pictured speaking to the crowd) said Charles should be criticised like any other politician

Republic’s chief executive Graham Smith (pictured speaking to the crowd) said Charles should be criticised like any other politician

Demonstrators have ramped up their protests in recent weeks, and have been spotted heckling the royal family. Pictured is a protester in London on Monday

Demonstrators have ramped up their protests in recent weeks, and have been spotted heckling the royal family. Pictured is a protester in London on Monday 

The King and Queen Consort were met with a mix of boos and cheers as they visited Colchester last week. Pictured are protesters on Monday outside Westminster Abbey in Londo

The King and Queen Consort were met with a mix of boos and cheers as they visited Colchester last week. Pictured are protesters on Monday outside Westminster Abbey in Londo

Crowds of well-wishers had gathered to greet the monarch earlier this month in Colchester (pictured) but among them were anti-monarchy protesters who waved 'Not My King' banners and shouted at Charles (pictured) to 'come over and talk to your critics'

Crowds of well-wishers had gathered to greet the monarch earlier this month in Colchester (pictured) but among them were anti-monarchy protesters who waved ‘Not My King’ banners and shouted at Charles (pictured) to ‘come over and talk to your critics’

Harry’s controversial autobiography Spare, published at the start of the year, included claims that William physically attacked him and that Charles did not hug him when he told him of Diana, Princess of Wales’s death.

Charles is now head of the Commonwealth, following in the late Queen’s footsteps after she successfully lobbied for him to take on the role.

A Commonwealth flag for peace will be carried in the procession of Commonwealth members’ flags to mark 2023 as Commonwealth Year of Peace.

The protest in Colchester was the latest to be organised by Republic, who have vowed to hold a series of protests in the run up to and on the Coronation

The protest in Colchester was the latest to be organised by Republic, who have vowed to hold a series of protests in the run up to and on the Coronation

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla at Colchester Castle to mark its recently awarded city status

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla at Colchester Castle to mark its recently awarded city status

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla greeting some schoolchildren outside Colchester Castle

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla greeting some schoolchildren outside Colchester Castle

The service will include musical performances from saxophonist Yolanda Brown, West End stars Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perera, and the all-female Amalgamation Choir, from Cyprus.

Guests of honour among the 2,000-strong congregation will include the Commonwealth secretary-general, the prime minister of Samoa, high commissioners, senior politicians and dignitaries from across the UK and the Commonwealth.

Also attending will be athletes from the home nations who competed at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last summer, as well as faith leaders, and more than 750 schoolchildren and young people from throughout the UK.

The service will be broadcast live on BBC One.

  

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