Coronation Abomination

No golden crowns or jeweled scepters can cover up deficits in democracy.

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Police officers in the United Kingdom have been known to take an oath to “well and truly” serve the monarch as part of a special ceremony before a magistrate when they become constables.

Late last year, British police officers began taking this oath, known as the attestation, to serve King Charles III following the death of the Queen.

Still, it came as a surprise to many when, during last week’s Coronation, the UK’s Metropolitan Police Service descended on anti-monarchy protesters with what appeared to be Minority Report-like zeal, arresting a total of 64 people based on concerns that some of them might – at some point in the future – disrupt the event, according to Sir Mark Rowley, head of the Met.

As part of these concerns, it was feared protesters might use rape alarms, possible “lock-on” devices and loud hailers that would disturb the military horses, in addition to vandalizing monuments during the multimillion-dollar Coronation procession. “Clearly, this would not only have been unlawful, but also extremely dangerous,” Rowley wrote, defending his officers.

He noted that, 12 hours before the Coronation, “we had become extremely concerned by a rapidly developing intelligence picture suggesting the Coronation could suffer.” 

Among those arrested were six protesters with the anti-monarchy group Republic, who were held for nearly 16 hours before being released.  They were told their bail would be canceled and no charges would be brought against them. (In the UK, “republicans” believe in replacing the monarchy with a republic and support new-fangled ideas such as having a popularly elected head of state instead of a monarch.)

Police expressed “regret” after it was found there was no proof to support their suspicions that the protesters were seeking to use lock-on devices to attach themselves to objects, which would have violated the law.

Matt Turnbull, one of the protesters arrested, stated, “It is a concerning thing for everyone for the police to be able to determine that you may be about to commit a crime when there is no evidence of that to be had.”

The chief executive of Republic, Graham Smith, also part of the arrested bunch, said he had received a personal apology from the police officers, but did not accept the apology and would be taking legal action. 

He called for a “full inquiry,” adding, “We have a lot of questions to answer and we will be taking action.”

Smith also cried foul on police claims that the officers had acted on credible information his group had planned to break the law. 

“They also said they had intelligence, which is untrue,” he said.

A good reminder, for those who may have forgotten amid the pageantry and glittery baubles, that monarchy and democracy just don’t mix.

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