After shouting “who elected him?” during King Charles’s proclamation ceremony through Oxford, activist Symon Hill was arrested for a public order offence. Cherwell can reveal that the charges made against the alleged anti-monarchist have now been dropped.
The ceremony that took place at Carfax Tower in September was part of the standard procedure for the assumption of a new monarch. Though, with the death of the country’s longest reigning monarch and for most of the population, the only monarch they’ve known, this was no ordinary proclamation ceremony. Hill told the BBC that he “remained quiet” in the moments that warranted respect for the late Queen. The activist spoke up when King Charles III was declared the new monarch, who is, as Hill commented, “a head of state being imposed on us without our consent”. His protestation, “who elected him?”, resulted in being arrested, a journey in a police van, and four months of legal proceedings.
The Crown Prosecution Service has now decided to “discontinue the matter” of the charges against Hill just three weeks before the court hearing was expected to take place. This is a success for the wider civil liberty campaign though it is shadowed by the surprising suppression of many individual protests against the monarchy across the UK. The activist stated in an article for Bright Green that the police had become “defensive and refused to talk” when he “expressed a mild criticism of the royal procession”. The police reaction to Hill’s small-scale protest raises further questions of the relationship between state and monarchy, not to mention the notion of a society that welcomes multiple points of view.
The Oxford protest was not singular. There has been a host of republican protests across the country since September, including the billboard campaign ‘#NotMyKing’. The campaign was inspired by a lone protester in London holding a piece of A3 paper of the same phrase; video footage shows she was promptly confronted by at least three police officers. Though, with the tension surrounding Prince Andrew, and more recently, the Royal Family infighting, it is not surprising that the King would feel threatened by growing public discontent. Nevertheless, anti-monarchist troops were rallied and protests against the non-democratic assumption of a new monarch are expected to reach their peak at the coronation on 6 May 2023.
The nation has an apparently expanding distaste for the monarchy. Though Oxford has its share of republican action, the monarchy remains a strong presence with the King as Visitor at three University colleges. For now, Britain remains hooked on its monarchic tradition.