‘Blank sign’ protesters gather near Edinburgh Cathedral following arrests of anti-monarchy activists

A small group of protesters have been standing near St Giles’ Cathedral ahead of the Queen’s coffin being taken to London

A group of protesters holding up blank sheets of paper have gathered near St Giles’ Cathedral, where mourners were awaiting the removal of the Queen’s coffin.

The protest has been organised in response to the arrests of several protesters in Edinburgh in recent days, and a video which appeared on social media of an incident in London in which a protester holding a blank sign was threatened with arrest.

Three people have been arrested and charged in connection with breaches of the peace in Edinburgh since the Queen’s death, while one man in Oxford was arrested and will be questioned at a later date.

‘People need a right to express their views’

Around 10 people are involved in the protest, which is taking place near to the site where the Queen has been lying-at-rest in St Giles’ Cathedral.

The group of protesters outside the cathedral today say they are not part of any official group, but have organised the protest due to their concerns over policing following the Queen’s death.

Quan, 30, from Edinburgh, told NationalWorld that the arrests of anti-monarchy protesters in recent days was “not ok” and that he was there to “push back against that”.

“If people want to grieve the Queen that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that,” he said. “What I have a problem with is that the state prescribes this national sentiment feeling to everyone and uses that as an excuse to suppress dissent around this.”

“Some people who liked [the Queen] disagree with the monarchy and think this is a good time to throw the tradition away, that should be able to be expressed.”

A number of passersby stopped to speak with the protesters, and there are police nearby, although no arrests have been made.

Quan said the reaction to the protest was “around 50/50,” before adding that he felt that if he had written anything on his sign “the police would probably take me away”.

One protester, who asked not to be named, said they were there “to protest the recent arrests” because “people need to have a right to express their views”.

“We’re here to just express that need for freedom of speech because that’s important, people who believe there shouldn’t be a monarchy should be able to come out and say that without fearing arrest.”

Three charged over breaches of peace in Edinburgh

More than 26,000 people have visited the Cathedral since the Queen’s coffin arrived there yesterday (12 September).

Members of the royal family were part of the procession which saw the Queen’s coffin taken from Holyrood palace along the Royal Mile to St Giles’ yesterday.

During this procession, a 22-year-old man was arrested in connection with a breach of the peace after he is thought to have heckled Prince Andrew.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland confirmed that the man was “released on an undertaking to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date”.

This came after two people were arrested in separate incidents on Sunday (11 September) following similar incidents.

A 22-year-old woman who was holding an anti-monarchy sign was arrested and has been charged, while a 74-year-old man was also arrested and charged before appearing in court yesterday.

In London, a barrister who held up a blank sign in Parliament Square said he was threatened with arrest if he were to write “Not my king” on the sign.

Paul Powlesland said an officer told him that “he would arrest me under the Public Order Act because someone might be offended”.

The Metropolitan Police have said the public “absolutely” have a right to protest and this has been made clear to all officers.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said: "We’re aware of a video online showing an officer speaking with a member of the public outside the Palace of Westminster earlier today.

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 Majesty the Queen."