King Charles' Coronation: Arrests of republican protesters were reminiscent of Vladimir Putin's crushing of dissent – Steve Cardownie
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I don’t remember much about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth but given that I was only one day old at the time that is hardly surprising. This time it promised to be different. My wife, who is Ukranian, was brimming with enthusiasm as she switched the TV on Saturday morning. She had never witnessed a spectacle such as this and, having met both King Charles and Queen Camilla on one of their visits to Edinburgh, it was particularly poignant for her.
As a former Festival and Events Champion for Edinburgh City Council, I was more interested in how the whole event was pieced together, rather than the act of the coronation itself. And I was impressed. The pageantry of the parade was undoubtedly of the highest standard and the organisation and timing of the various components were carried out with the utmost precision. It was a considerable feat of planning for what was an event that commanded a worldwide audience.
However, it was not without its detractors. When it comes to the history and role of the monarchy, there is no shortage of diverse opinions and heated debate. For instance, we had the motion up at the City Chambers where the Greens sought to convince councillors that the bestowing of the title of Duke of Edinburgh on Prince Edward should be rebuffed by the council.
Bemoaning the lack of consultation with the people of Edinburgh before the title was passed on to him, the Greens attempted to do the very same by stating in the motion that the council “believes that the title of Duke of Edinburgh should hold no official status in the city, and therefore this council believes that it should be considered an illegitimate title”. All this without consultation with the people of Edinburgh. Stones and glass houses spring to mind.
God knows what kind of international publicity Edinburgh would have attracted had the motion been passed but, despite gaining support from the SNP group, which wants to maintain its cosy relationship with the Greens at all costs, the motion was defeated.
In Trafalgar Square, in scenes reminiscent of dictatorial regimes’ handling of demonstrations, six anti-monarchy protesters were unceremoniously bundled into police vans under the pretext of a new law which makes it illegal for protesters to use equipment to secure themselves to railings etc.
However, in the latest development, the Metropolitan Police has now been forced to admit that there was no proof that these protesters had intended to “lock on” and they have issued a grovelling apology to the six that were arrested, confirming that they have had their bail cancelled and no further action will be taken.
The heavy-handed tactics adopted by the Met would not have gone amiss in Red Square, but at least here a remedy is available through the courts. One of those arrested, Graham Smith, chief executive of campaign group Republic, has said that he does not accept the apology and intends to take legal action.
Now that the pomp and circumstance are behind us, we can concentrate on the issues that really matter.