United Kingdom: Scots pay tribute to late Queen Elizabeth II
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Police are warning protesting anti-monarchists about breaching the peace, leading to debate online about the freedom to protest.

Following Queen Elizabeth II's death on Thursday, conversation surrounding the legitimacy of the Royal Family sparked online as anti-royalists called for the dissolution of monarchy.

"Not my King" and "Abolish the Monarchy" signs began popping up from protesters around the UK as King Charles III begins to prepare to ascend the throne.

Police have arrested several protesters, drawing criticisms from people about freedom of speech.

On Sunday, a 22-year-old woman was charged in connection with a breach of the peace after being arrested during an accession proclamation for the King outside St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh.

She had been seen holding a sign that said “F**k imperialism, abolish monarchy”.

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She was later released and will appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date, the BBC reports.

Meanwhile, on the same day, Symon Hill, 45, was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence after shouting "Who elected him?" during another accession proclamation in Oxford.

Thames Valley Police told the broadcaster he was later de-arrested and was assisting officers "voluntarily".

On Monday, a 22-year-old man was arrested in connection with a breach of the peace after reportedly heckling Prince Andrew as the royal procession moved along Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

One man was even approached by police for holding a single blank piece of paper.

"Just went to Parliament Square & held up a blank piece of paper. Officer came & asked for my details. He confirmed that if I wrote 'Not My King' on it, he would arrest me under the Public Order Act because someone might be offended," Paul Powlesland tweeted.

Powlesland attached a video of the encounter where the Metropolitan police officer warned him writing "Not my King" may offend people.

"A period of quiet mourning for the Queen is fine, but using that period to cement Charles Accession as King & cracking down on any dissent to the accession as disrespectful is outrageous," Powlesland added.

Other people felt similarly, saying Powlesland and others had not violated any rules and should be allowed to express their opinion on the matter.

According to the Public Order Act of 1936, "Any person who in any public place or at any public meeting uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned, shall be guilty of an offence."


A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said they are aware of the video.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said, "the public absolutely have a right to protest and we have been making this clear to all officers involved in the extraordinary policing operation currently in place and we will continue to do so."

"However, the overwhelming majority of interactions between officers and the public at this time have been positive as people have come to the Capital to mourn the loss of Her Late Majesty the Queen," Cundy added.

Speaking about the arrests more broadly, Labour MP Zarah Sultana said: “No one should be arrested for just expressing republican views. Extraordinary – and shocking – that this needs saying.”

Ruth Smeeth, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said the arrests were "deeply concerning", adding: "We must guard against this event being used, by accident or design, to erode in any way the freedom of expression that citizens of this country enjoy."

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said police officers had a "duty to protect people's right to protest as much as they have a duty to facilitate people's right to express support, sorrow, or pay their respects".

Jodie Beck, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said it was "very worrying to see the police enforcing their broad powers in such a heavy-handed and punitive way".

"Protest is not a gift from the State, it is a fundamental right," she said.

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