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Royal superfan arrested and locked up for 13 hours at coronation for standing near protesters

A royal superfan was arrested and held by police for 13 hours because she happened to be standing next to a group of Just Stop Oil protesters ahead of the King’s coronation.

Alice Chambers had travelled alone to The Mall in central London on Saturday and was eagerly awaiting a glimpse of King Charles when she found herself being handcuffed by Metropolitan Police officers who burst into the crowd.

The 36-year-old architect, who is originally from Australia but has lived in London for seven years, said she had no idea she happened to be sitting beside the group, as they had not started protesting.

Ms Chambers said she was told she was being arrested on suspicion of “potential to cause a breach the peace” at around 9am, along with around a dozen other people in scenes captured by Sky News cameras.

“I was just sitting on my little stool and I noticed there was some yelling and then some police swooped in and were pushing the crowd back,” she told i.

“I must have been right on the edge of that, I went to get up and two police officers just grabbed me and handcuffed me.

I don’t think they said anything, I think they arrested me before they asked a question. I feel like once I was in the system they didn’t listen, I tried to explain that I wasn’t part of the group.”

Alice Chambers being arrested on The Mall at the King's Coronation on 6 May, 2023
Alice Chambers was arrested on The Mall at the King’s Coronation on 6 May and held for 13 hours (Source: Sky News)
Ms Chambers, a keen royalist who has attended a number of royal events, outside Buckingham Palace in 2017

During a 13-hour ordeal, Ms Chambers said she was repeatedly questioned, subjected to physical searches, held in a cell and had her DNA, fingerprints and mugshot taken before the Met finally realised she was an innocent bystander.

She said it wasn’t until two senior officers interviewed her at 7pm, more than 10 hours after she was arrested, that police acknowledged they’d made a mistake.

“I think the only question they asked me was, ‘Why were you on The Mall?’” said Ms Chambers.

“I explained the whole thing, how I went down there at 7am to get a good spot, how I went one way and it was blocked and I ended up walking back to where there seemed to be some space.

“They looked at each other and then they asked ‘have you ever heard of Just Stop Oil? I said, ‘Up until today no.’ They said we have no further questions and we’re really sorry you’ve been caught up in this.

“That was the point I started crying and got emotional – that was the first time anyone had been able to listen to my side of the story.

“I asked them, ‘Was there anything I could have done that would have meant I didn’t end up here?’”

Ms Chambers said even after officers acknowledged the mistake, it was another two-and-a-half hours before she was able to leave Wandsworth police station in south London at 10pm.

It comes as the Met Police has faced a barrage of criticism over the arrests of 64 people around the King’s coronation on Saturday, with new anti-protest laws used to detain demonstrators from groups including Republic and Just Stop Oil.

On Monday, the Met was forced into an embarrassing climbdown over the arrest of six anti-monarchy campaigners after the force said it found no evidence they were planning to disrupt the event.

Met Chief Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley later defended his officers’ actions, claiming police had received intelligence that protesters were intending to throw paint at the procession and vandalise monuments.

Ms Chambers said police offered her help getting home but she decided to get the Tube back to Wapping on her own, a journey of almost an hour across London.

“Everyone on the Tube had had the most incredible day, and there’s me that had the complete opposite,” she added.

Ms Chambers has been to a number of royal events before and admits her friends find it funny that she likes to go to them on her own.

“That’s what’s great about the UK and London, the pomp and the ceremony that’s pretty unique in the world,” she said.

“That’s what was so devastating – the Trooping of the Colour happens every year but this was a one time event, you can’t rerun it next year.”

Alice Chambers at the Buckingham Palace garden party in 2017

Ms Chambers has been left upset about what happened and has made a complaint to both the Met Police and the police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

“I understand why the police were on the edge, they did have a tough job that day,” she said.

“But they need to have better processes and better training in place because innocent people shouldn’t be getting locked up for that long.

“I just want to do as much as I can to get the message out there so it doesn’t happen to other people.”

The Metropolitan Police has been contacted for comment.

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