Republic CEO Graham Smith claimed it was the first anti-monarchy protest inside the royal residence
While King Charles’ state visit to France ended smoothly, protestors caused a commotion inside Buckingham Palace.
On Saturday, members of the anti-monarchy group Republic staged a demonstration inside the iconic royal residence in London. Organizers tweeted that it was the “first-ever protest” inside Buckingham Palace walls and posted a photo of nine activists in black T-shirts that spelled out “Not My King” — the slogan Republic has adopted during Charles’ reign — on X (formerly known as Twitter).
“Just after midday today, members of Republic staged a protest inside Buckingham Palace. The group of local activists from different parts of the UK visited the palace as tourists, before standing in the Grand Hall wearing t-shirts that spelled out ‘Not My King,’ ” Republic said in a statement on Sept. 20.
According to the group, six of the activists were briefly detained by security before being escorted outside. Republic CEO Graham Smith described the demonstration as momentous because it was held inside the palace. While King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla don’t actually live at Buckingham Palace (where a $460 million renovation is currently underway), the historic royal residence is synonymous with the British royal family and serves as the hub of the monarchy’s operations. Buckingham Palace is currently open to the public. The royal residence opens its doors for the public to see the State Rooms every summer and will welcome guests this year until the end of September.
— Republic (@RepublicStaff) September 23, 2023
"This is a first, an anti-monarchy protest inside Buckingham Palace. A fantastic statement of intent, citizens standing up in the home of the monarchy to declare their opposition to hereditary power,” Smith said in a statement.
"Charles is not an untouchable monarch, he is not immune to criticism and doesn't enjoy the deference that protected the monarchy while his mother was on the throne,” he continued, referring to Queen Elizabeth, who reigned for a record 70 years before her death in September 2022 at age 96.
The activist added that Republic will next protest the State Opening of Parliament on Nov. 7. The event is significant as it is the first of the new reign and will be the first time Charles, 74, delivers his King's Speech.
The State Opening of Parliament is a key moment in the political and constitutional calendar as it sees the monarch, as head of state, outline the main legislation that the serving U.K. government (led currently by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak) wishes to introduce over the coming months.
The event is steeped in tradition — and calls for royal regalia. Although Queen Elizabeth opted to wear a day dress and hat in recent years, the State Opening of Parliament often saw the late monarch wearing the Imperial State Crown (or a diadem) and her long velvet Robe of State.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Lords wear ceremonial robes, and judges of the High Court of Justice wear wigs.
Republic’s latest statement followed King Charles and Queen Camilla’s three-day state visit to France. The royal couple was abroad from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22, stepping out for a trip rescheduled from March due to pension-related protests for French workers.
The brief tour was highlighted by a glamorous state banquet at Versailles with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Birgitte, plus stops at the Arc de Triomphe, National Assembly, Rugby World Cup village, Notre Dame, and an organic vineyard near Bordeaux.
In a palace briefing before the trip, King Charles' deputy private secretary Chris Fitzgerald said the idea for the visit was to celebrate “Britain’s relationship with France, marking our shared histories, culture and values.” Fitzgerald added that the program “remains very similar to that which was planned for March, meaning the themes of the visit are also, for the most part, unchanged."
While the King and Queen received a warm welcome in France, Republic previously made a statement on their May 6 coronation day.
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While supportive crowds lined the London streets hoping to catch a glimpse of King Charles and Queen Camilla on the day of their crowning ceremony, members of Republic gathered in Trafalgar Square, chanting "Not my King." Many of the activists wore yellow and brandished signs in the movement's signature hue.
"I'm protesting because I'm a member of Republic, which is the campaign group for a republic in this country because I want to see the monarchy abolished. It might not happen in my lifetime, but it might happen in my children's lifetime," a protestor named Anna told PEOPLE at the time. "I believe there is too much classism and snobbery in this country and the royal families sit at the very top of that pyramid, and if we abolish the monarchy I think we'll have a fairer, better, society, more democratic and a country that I'd be proud to call my own."
The coronation day wasn't the first time that King Charles kept calm and carried on in the face of protestors. Anti-monarchy group Republic has gathered at many of the monarch's royal engagements in recent months, holding yellow signs with slogans such as "Not My King."
In December, King Charles kept cool during a walkabout in Luton when an egg was allegedly thrown in his direction. He was greeting well-wishers gathered outside Luton Town Hall when an egg flew towards where he stood, the Associated Press reported. According to the outlet, protection officers redirected the royal to another spot, where he continued shaking hands with people. Bedfordshire Police said that a man in his 20s was detained and taken into custody, the BBC reported.
More recently, Kate Middleton stayed focused when a lone activist staged a “very small republican protest” outside the Foundling Museum in London when the Princess of Wales visited in May, Richard Palmer of the Daily Express wrote on X. Princess Kate didn’t react to the activist as she exited the Foundling Museum after the hour-long visit. The protestor stood with well-wishers and chanted “Born equal,” according to footage from royals reporter Victoria Ward. According to Ward, the activist was not affiliated with Republic.
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