We are seeing cases of people being arrested in UK for holding #NotMyKing signs or something along these lines. My question here is not about the legality of those police actions.

My question is: as a UK citizen opposed to monarchy, do I have any legal obligation of differential treatment towards the king/queen if I stumble upon them on the pavement or can I treat them exactly like any other ordinary citizen? In a purposefully exaggerated way for the sake of clarification, a law that states something like "you must address the king as 'your highness' or you will be arrested", or "thou shalt vacate thy seat if the king enters the bus".

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    "people being arrested in UK for holding #NotMyKing signs" [citation required]
    – user35069
    Sep 14, 2022 at 7:14
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    @Rick Something along those lines: A woman in Edinburgh holding a sign reading “F*** imperialism, abolish the monarchy” was charged with a breach of the peace while another woman in London was moved from the gates of Parliament while carrying a “Not my king” sign. Symon Hill was handcuffed after he shouted “Who elected him?” referring to Charles being proclaimed new king.
    – User65535
    Sep 14, 2022 at 7:55
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    @Rick you can find it on several sources, I believe the Washington Post is a reputable newspaper: washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/13/… Sep 14, 2022 at 9:12
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    @User65535 being arrested while holding a sign does not imply that they were arrested for holding that sign.
    – phoog
    Sep 14, 2022 at 9:26
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    "differential treatment" -- did you mean "deferential"?
    – Barmar
    Sep 14, 2022 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


Lèse majesté is not prosecuted in the UK

While it is still technically illegal to advocate the abolition of the monarchy under the Treason Felony Act of 1848, more recent freedom of speech laws means that it is not possible to bring a successful prosecution. The only reason it hasn’t been abolished is that Parliament has better things to do and, since the government doesn’t bring charges under it, the courts can’t quash it.

So, the Monarch has the same legal protections as anyone else.

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    I agree with your first two paragraphs, but the final one is almost surely not true. At a minimum the monarch has serious immunities from liability and diplomatic type privileges.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 14, 2022 at 10:13
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    @ohwilleke Possibly, yes. But that would apply to the monarch behaving incorrectly (such as insulting people), not the other way round.
    – PMF
    Sep 14, 2022 at 10:48
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    @PMF While crimes for insulting or defaming monarchs are no longer enforced in the U.K., I am highly skeptical that all special protections for the monarch in the U.K. are gone. For example, I would expect that, at a minimum, there would be enhanced penalties for threatening the monarch as opposed to merely insulting the monarch.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 14, 2022 at 10:54
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    @ohwilleke: there are indeed. See, for example, Treason Act 1351. Sep 14, 2022 at 12:26
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    It's not clear to me if the Treason Act 1351 prohibits doing anything to the monarch that would be legal if done to anyone else - it apparently protects the monarch's children in a special way, and other public officials. But while it prevents you from planning to kill the monarch, planning to kill anybody else is also a crime.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 14, 2022 at 22:29

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