During the coronation of King Charles III in London, hundreds of republican protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square to express their desire to abolish the monarchy. Anna Edwards, a 33-year-old Londoner, held up a banner reading “Not My King” instead of a British flag as the royal carriage passed. Most of the protesters were in favor of elections and democracy, not necessarily against the monarchy itself. However, there were fears that the police would intervene to prevent the mobilization, and those fears were confirmed when the police arrested the leader of the Republic group that called the demonstration, as well as other organizers, and confiscated banners. Protesters chanted “Free Graham Smith!” while the arrests were taking place.
Although Republicans remain a minority in the UK, they have gained visibility since the death of the popular Elizabeth II in September. A handful of them appear almost regularly when Charles III travels on an official visit. During the demonstration, some supporters of the monarchy booed the demonstrators, who shouted “he is not my king!” and “Down with the crown!” and began to sing the national anthem “God Save the King” while waving British flags. The coexistence between the demonstrators and the rest of the crowd was mostly cordial.
Republicans are gaining support among young people, as reflected in recent polls. Anna, a 54-year-old woman who did not want to give her last name, said the time has come for republicanism in the UK. Overall, the rally was an opportunity for Republicans to express their desire to elect their head of state instead of having a hereditary monarchy.
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