News ID: 114757
Publish Date : 06 May 2023 - 23:17
Lavish Coronation Amid Cost-of-Living Crisis Sparks Anger

Britons Shout ‘Down With the King’

LONDON (Dispatches) –
Anti-monarchy protesters along King Charles’s procession route booed the king as he passed on Saturday. Demonstrators could be heard chanting ‘not my king’ and ‘down with the king’ as his carriage passed.
Hundreds of anti-royalists were confronted by police – and some prevented from entering Trafalgar Square – as a volley of arrests of both republicans and Just Stop Oil protesters were made.
UK police drew condemnation after arresting leading members of the anti-monarchy group Republic as they prepared to protest along the route of a procession for the coronation.
Officers from London’s Metropolitan Police force detained six organizers from the group and seized hundreds of their placards, Republic said, just hours before Charles’s crowning.
Republic chief executive Graham Smith was one of those held before the group had a chance to wave placards declaring “Not my king”. Some onlookers nearby shouted “free Graham Smith”.
“They won’t tell us why they’ve arrested them or where they’re being held,” a Republic activist told AFP in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The detentions prompted immediate criticism from Human Rights Watch, which called the arrests “incredibly alarming”.
“This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London,” the rights organization’s UK Director, Yasmine Ahmed, said in a statement.
“Peaceful protests allow individuals to hold those in power to account -- something the UK government seems increasingly averse to.”
The arrests come just days after UK police forces were controversially granted new anti-protest powers by the government under a new law rushed through this week.
A camera crew from the group Alliance of European Republican Movements was at the scene and asked a senior police officer why the group had been detained.
“They’re under arrest. End of,” the officer told them, walking off, according to footage posted by the group on Twitter.
On its Twitter feed, Republic confirmed the arrests and seizure of placards. “Is this democracy?” it asked.
Smith told reporters last week: “We certainly have no plans to disrupt the actual procession.”
Waving placards and shouting would show “in front of the world’s press that we are not a country of loyalists, that there is a growing opposition”, the Republic founder said.
The new police powers law was enacted after months of protests around Britain by groups opposed to fossil fuels. It entails stiffer jail terms against activists gluing and padlocking themselves to immovable objects.
Separately Saturday, at least 19 members of Just Stop Oil were arrested in central London, the group -- which stages demonstrations -- said in a statement.
An AFP reporter saw numerous activists being handcuffed by police on The Mall, the processional route from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square.
“Their intention was only to display T-shirts and flags. This is a massive authoritarian overreach,” Just Stop Oil said.
“While everyone is focused on a billionaire in a shiny hat, the government is signing off on plans to destroy the lives of millions of ordinary people, while enacting laws to ensure that no one can stop them.”
The arrests left other anti-monarchy demonstrators incensed.
Eva Smeeth, 19, said the new police powers law had motivated her to turn out.
“This bill is all so wrong so, yeah, I don’t feel like celebrating anything today,” she told AFP, holding a placard bearing the slogan “abolish the monarchy not the right to protest”.

Cost of Glitzy Coronation
The coronation, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Saturday, kickstarted three days of celebrations across London and the wider UK, culminating in a public holiday on May 8.
The service — the first of its kind in 70 years — is largely ceremonial, following the 74-year-old king’s official accession to the throne on September

8, 2022, the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
But historic occasion falls against a challenging economic backdrop for the UK, with many questioning the validity of the event as the country faces its worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.
Buckingham Palace does not provide an exact figure for the cost of the coronation. However, the expense of the weekend’s proceedings — which include a “King’s procession” and a star-studded concert in Windsor Gardens — are expected to run to £100 million ($125 million), according to estimates cited by the BBC.
The occasion is funded by the UK government and, ultimately, the British taxpayer.
That has disgruntled some Brits, with 51% saying the coronation should not be funded by the government, according to a recent YouGov poll, while 18% were undecided.
Meantime, the public holiday called to mark the event on May 8 is estimated the cost the UK economy a further £1.36 billion in lost productivity.
The UK has been hit by a large wave of strikes in recent months, with nurses, junior doctors, midwifes, healthcare workers, university staff, train drivers and civil servants – including staff checking passports at airports – all walking out over pay disputes.
Most public sector workers have been offered raises of 4% or 5% for the current financial year, which is significantly lower than the annual inflation rate which has been above 10% for seven consecutive months. Food prices are rising at a particularly painful pace: the cost of bread was up 19.4% year on year in March.
Currently, UK gross domestic product (GDP) stands around 0.6% below its level of late-2019, and it is the only G7 economy not to have recovered from the Covid-induced slump.
The king’s coronation this Saturday showcaseed some of the enormous wealth accumulated by the British monarchy over the centuries. There were golden carriages and priceless jewels and custom-made designer outfits that cost more than most people make in months.
The King’s enormous private wealth and lavish lifestyle stand in stark contrast to the realities most people in the UK are currently living.
Buckingham Palace refuses to comment on the royal family’s financial situation, arguing they have the right to privacy. The Guardian newspaper recently estimated Charles’ private wealth to be more than £1.8 billion.
Forbes estimated last year that the personal fortune of the late Queen Elizabeth II was worth $500 million, which included her jewels, art collection, investments and two residences, Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham House in the English county of Norfolk. The Queen inherited both properties from her father, King George VI and passed them on to Charles.
That’s where the biggest financial advantage of being the monarch kicked in. The king is exempt from paying taxes and while he chooses to pay income tax voluntarily, he did not have to pay any inheritance tax – normally set at 40% – on what his mother left him. That saved him tens of millions of pounds that would otherwise go to the UK Treasury.
“It feels outrageous that with the cost of living crisis and so many people suffering, we are spending hundreds of millions of pounds on this public event and all the pomp and pageantry,” Dr Rebecca Steinfeld, one of the protestors, told RFI’s Amanda Morrow on Saturday.
Polls suggest support for the monarchy is declining and is weakest among young people.
A poll by YouGov last month found 64 percent of people in Britain said they had little or no interest in the coronation. Among those aged 18 to 24, the number voicing little or no interest rose to 75 percent.
Since Charles became king last September, there have been protests at royal events. He was heckled at a Commonwealth Day event at Westminster Abbey in March and targeted with eggs in York in November.
The death of the queen has also reignited debate in other parts of the world, such as Australia and Jamaica, about the need to retain Charles as their head of state.