LONDON: British media presenter Piers Morgan has added his voice to a chorus of complaints over the arrest of anti-monarchy protesters.
Speaking during his show “Piers Morgan Uncensored” on TalkTV on Monday, the 57-year-old former “Good Morning Britain” presenter condemned the hard-line stance taken by British police toward demonstrators.
The TV host argued that mourning the queen’s death should not be mandatory since “we don’t live in North Korea.” Despite his disagreement with the demonstrators, Morgan said that free expression is critical to the UK.
“In this country you have the right to disagree, to have your opinion and to protest loudly if you see fit. There are legitimate discussions to be had now about the future of the monarchy under King Charles III and the Commonwealth,” Morgan said.
“There will be vigorous debate about how a monarchy fits in at all with a thriving democracy that champions free speech. A constitutional monarchy has to make the case for itself time and time again,” he added.
"In this country you have the right to disagree and protest loudly."
"Silencing dissent like this is a bit disturbing, it feels over the top. It's not British."@PiersMorgan gives his thoughts on people protesting the monarchy during this emotional time. pic.twitter.com/YhmbNsjuNd
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) September 12, 2022
During the last few days, the police arrested several protesters across the country. One person was arrested on Sunday for shouting “who elected him?” at King Charles during the county proclamation ceremony in Oxford.
On Monday, police in London led away a demonstrator brandishing a sign that said: “Not my king,” while on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, a protester was detained for breaching the peace after yelling: “Andrew, you’re a sick old guy!” as the queen’s second son walked behind the coffin as it was driven through Edinburgh.
Arrests of anti-monarchy protesters following the queen’s death have been condemned as “very disturbing” and an “affront to democracy” by free speech and human rights activists.
“The fundamental right to freedom of expression, including the right to protest, is something to be protected regardless of circumstance,” said Ruth Smeeth, CEO of Index on Censorship, an organization campaigning for freedom of expression.
The recent arrests have sparked debate across the country, with some questioning if the police are going too far.
Many users took to social media to comment on Morgan’s clip highlighting differing opinions in the country.
One user wrote: “Respect needs to be taught apparently. There are plenty of times to express one’s feelings; the queen’s coffin is not one of them.”
But, respect needs to be taught apparently. There are plenty of times to express one’s feelings, the Queen’s coffin is not one of them.
— Mary Larson (@MaryLar90939625) September 13, 2022
Many, however, sided with Morgan saying that while “heckling at this time is inappropriate, the principle of nonviolent, free speech must remain non-negotiable. Furthermore, we’ve seen a worrying trend in strongarm police tactics in recent years, that upholds whatever ‘majority view’.”
Fair enough Piers. I agree that heckling at this time is inappropriate. Nevertheless, the principle of nonviolent, free speech must remain non negotiable. Furthermore, we've seen a worrying trend in strongarm police tactics in recent years, that upholds whatever "majority view".
— Iggy Risu (@Tuftybeat) September 12, 2022
Royal events have often been marked by arrests of anti-monarchy protesters, and experts predict more incidents of this type are likely to occur in the upcoming days.
“There will be vigorous debate about how a monarchy fits in at all with a thriving democracy that champions free speech. A constitutional monarchy has to make the case for itself time and time again,” Morgan said.
“They rule by the consent of the people. Silencing dissent like this is a bit disturbing; it feels over the top. It’s not British.”