Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Cornwall marred by ‘blank paper’ protester

A “blank paper” protester was detained by police during the Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Cornwall.

The man, thought to be in his 20s, walked through the crowds holding up a blank piece of paper as the Royal couple greeted crowds in Falmouth.

Police moved in and led the man away. Minutes later, he returned and was heard saying “no more monarchy”.

This time, as the Prince and Princess continued their walkabout under the watchful eye of their protection officers, the police marched the man away and detained him until the Royals had left.

The man said later: “It’s the 21st century and we don’t need a monarchy anymore. It’s f—— ridiculous.”

The incident follows a series of protests on Royal visits.

On Wednesday, as the King and the Queen Consort visited Brick Lane in east London, a man waved a black flag and a card reading “no love for a nation”. Asked who he represented, he said: “I represent people who did not vote for him.”

The King has twice been targeted with eggs in recent months.

Patrick Thelwell, a student at the University of York, is accused of hurling eggs at the monarch and the Queen Consort as they prepared to unveil a statue of Queen Elizabeth II at York Minster last November.

Last month, he pleaded not guilty to a section four public order offence and the case was adjourned until April 14. He faces up to six months in jail if found guilty.

Meanwhile, Harry May, 21, was fined £100 and ordered to pay £85 costs in January after throwing an egg at the King during a visit to Luton in December.

May told police the egging was motivated by his belief that the King’s visit to “deprived and poor” Luton was “in bad taste”, said prosecutors.

Blank paper protests first emerged in the 2020 Hong Kong demonstrations, as locals held blank pieces of paper to protest against the city’s draconian new national security laws.

The tactic became popular after the authorities banned slogans and phrases associated with the mass protest movement of 2019.

It is considered a statement about the silencing of dissent as well as a challenge to the authorities which might struggle to arrest someone holding a sign that said nothing.

Last September, Paul Powlesland, 36, a barrister and nature rights activist from Barking, east London, claimed he was warned by police that he risked being arrested if he wrote “not my King” on a placard.

He travelled to London with “a blank piece of paper” and recorded himself while speaking with police officers, and tried to establish whether he would be arrested if he “exercised his freedom of speech”.

A clip of him speaking with an officer who warned he may be arrested for “offending someone” has been viewed 1.5 million times on social media.

Following the Queen’s death last September, a woman was arrested in Edinburgh for holding a sign saying ”F— imperialism. Abolish monarchy” during the accession proclamation of the King.

A man was also arrested in Oxford after asking “Who elected him?” at the county proclamation ceremony.

And another protester was arrested for shouting “Andrew, you’re a sick old man” at the Duke of York as he walked behind his mother’s coffin in Edinburgh.

Civil rights activists have warned that arresting people for expressing opinions “threatens the basics of democracy” by contravening the right to freedom of speech.

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