Royal fan misses Coronation after arrest on Mall when mistaken for Just Stop Oil protester

The arrest of Alice Chambers, in the foreground with red hair, was captured on Sky News coverage   (Sky News )
The arrest of Alice Chambers, in the foreground with red hair, was captured on Sky News coverage (Sky News )

A Royals fan who waited on The Mall to catch a glimpse of the King’s coronation ended up spending 13 hours in police custody after being wrongfully mistaken for a Just Stop Oil protester.

Australian architect Alice Chambers, 36, had been unknowingly standing next to the group of protesters when she was arrested on the morning of Saturday May 6.

She told the i newspaper that she had been arrested on suspicion of potential to cause a breach of the peace around 9am along with a dozen others, in a moment captured by Sky News cameras.

“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,” she told i.

“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.”

Ms Chambers spent the next 13 hours in a cell at Wandsworth Police Station, where she said she was searched and had her fingerprints and mugshot taken, the i reports.

Finally two officers allegedly interviewed her at 7pm and discovered that she was not a Just Stop Oil protester but merely a Royals enthusiast. She was eventually released at 10pm that day.

“The [officers] 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,” she told i.

“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.”

Ms Chambers, who has lived in London for seven years, has made a complaint to the Met.

 (Sky News)
(Sky News)

The Met told the Standard: “We are aware that a woman was arrested in relation to a protest on May 6 2023.

“The arresting officer was from Lincolnshire Police and the complaint has therefore been passed to the relevant force to investigate. The Met will assist by providing any relevant information they require.”

Chief Inspector Simon Outen from the Professional Standards Department at Lincolnshire Police said: “Our officers were in central London providing mutual aid support to colleagues in the Met on Saturday 6 May, and during that time, a woman in her 30s was arrested in connection with a Just Stop Oil protest.

“She was subsequently released with no further action.

“We have now received a complaint and we are reviewing the incident, and we are in contact with the complainant to establish the full details of her allegations.”

On Thursday, Tory MP David Davis said he felt “really sorry for this woman”.

“Her day was ruined as a direct outcome of giving police too many powers,” the MP for Haltemprice and Howden wrote on Twitter.

“Changes to the law have engendered an attitude that peaceful protest should be viewed with suspicion. We should also review the viability of charges like ‘conspiracy to cause a public nuisance’.

“They appear to require very little evidence and almost amount to pre-crime. This sort of pre-emptive arrest should only be used to prevent violence, or crimes involving very serious harm.”

The Metropolitan Police faced criticism after arresting six protesters ahead of the King’s coronation to then release them without charges. Scotland Yard expressed “regret” over the arrests.

In total officers arrested 64 people in London over the coronation weekend.

Scotland Yard chief Sir Mark Rowley on Tuesday claimed officers had foiled a plot to cause “multiple serious injuries” at the King’s Coronation after the force was criticised for heavy-handed tactics.

Meanwhile a cross-party panel of MPs will consider whether to open an inquiry into the Metropolitan Police’s arrest of anti-monarchy protesters over the coronation weekend, its chairwoman has confirmed.