King Charles III, Photo: Dan Marsh, Flickr / cropped from original / licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, linked at bottom of article King Charles III, Photo: Dan Marsh, Flickr / cropped from original / licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, linked at bottom of article

It is not very often that the British establishment reaches its current levels of absurdity. But there is something more sinister going on, as we see with the arrest of anti monarchy protestors, argues Lucy Nichols

The death of the queen and the ascension of a new king has demonstrated how insecure this wilting establishment is. The arrests of republicans for protesting the monarchy does nothing but prove just how scared the state is of losing its grip on control.

All news coverage is now of the king, and the variety of bizarre rituals that come with changing from one unelected sovereign to another. Images of the late queen are plastered all over the place, and local councils everywhere are holding vigils for the woman who died last week. Adoring crowds line the streets for a glimpse of the new king as he travels around the UK in all his finery, in his private jet and motorcade.

A variety of republicans have publicly stood against the crown, in Edinburgh, London, and Oxford. More will crop up as the royals are paraded around the UK, and more will get arrested for what are effectively expressions of free speech in what is supposed to be a democracy. This is an outrageous attack on our civil liberties and freedom of expression and presages the likelihood of further crackdowns on protest, whether at the monarchy or over the cost of living or in support of strikes. It shows that some of the recent draconian legislation attacking protest put through parliament by the Tories was not just for show. 

We have seen in the last few days that there is absolutely no room in the public eye for any ideas that oppose the status quo and constitutional monarchy. There is no mainstream media coverage of republican voices, and the Labour Party has shown its willingness to give uncritical support not just to the new king but to the whole edifice of inequality which is the royal family.

If you only watched the news, you would believe that the only republicans in Britain are the handful of people that have been very publicly arrested for protesting the monarchy. These people have faced violence from the police and been roundly condemned by the mainstream media. Of course, this is not the case. The republican movement in Britain is just about as old as the monarchy itself. Support for the crown has certainly been dwindling in recent decades.

The monarchy has seen controversy after controversy, from Diana to Andrew, and is now using the death of the Queen to try and boost royalist feeling across the country. It is no coincidence that Charles has spent the first few days of his reign visiting Scotland and Northern Ireland, and will continue onto Cardiff before returning to London for the queen’s funeral.

The death of the queen and her immediate replacement serves to remind us just how little say we have in the affairs of the monarchy, even though we live under a ‘constitutional’ one. Even more poignant is that this comes just days after a new prime minister walked into Downing Street, despite not being voted for by the general public. So neither the head of government nor head of state has faced any sort of electoral or democratic scrutiny.

This is why now is a crucial time to protest the monarchy, to remind people that abolition is actually possible (we have done it before, after all). While the establishment mourns the dead queen, it is also waging a propaganda war to keep the current king on the throne.  It is working hard to paint the former queen as a neutral force, benevolent and innocent to her core, and seen as ‘above politics’. It will do the same with King Charles III to try to distract us all from the British monarchy’s violent colonial past.

We are living in a country where holding a sign that says ‘not my King’ is an arrestable offence. Thousands will go cold and hungry this winter, while the new King sits on billions and billions of hoarded wealth.

The establishment prefers it if we mourn a dead queen than an unarmed man shot dead by police. We are in a period of immense crisis, but the establishment wants us to focus on the state funeral that will cost a fortune.

There will  be more instances of protests against the monarchy, and certainly more arrests. These must be met with solidarity from the left, which must continue to mobilise against the British state as it wages war on its citizens.

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