On Wednesday, King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla were unveiling a statue honoring the late Queen Elizabeth II in York when they were greeted by an act of protest. A protester threw eggs at the couple as they conducted a walkabout in the small city’s center, and according to the BBC, a 23-year-old man was later arrested.
The broadcaster spoke to Kim Oldfield, a woman who witnessed eggs flying and heard booing. “About five eggs he’d managed to send,” she said. “Camilla sort of flinched a little bit when the booing started but [the police] quelled it really quickly. Just a shame they spoiled what was a lovely moment.”
According to a video posted to Twitter by the Mail on Sunday’s Rebecca English, the protester shouted “This country was built on the blood of slaves,” and people in the crowd tackled the protester while shouting “God save the king!” and “Shame on you.” One egg landed about a foot away from Charles, but the king and queen consort continued their walkabout. They were soon introduced to Jason Tweedie-Long, a child with a visual impairment who was brought to the front of the crowd after his grandmother reached out to local officials.
The protest took place one day after an event in Leeds where he toured an exhibition put on by The World Reimagined, an art project co-founded by the actor and singer Michelle Gayle in 2021. The organization’s Globes project asked artists from around the U.K. to make sculptural works inspired by the the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the experienced of enslaved people. Charles toured the exhibition with his goddaughter, Fiona Compton, an artist and historian who serves as a trustee for the organization. Compton is the daughter of Sir John Compton, the former prime minister of St. Lucia, the Caribbean nation where Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, encountered protests demanding reparations and formal apology from Britain during an April visit.
In an interview with the Mirror, Compton explained that Charles is interested in continuing conversations about the legacy of slavery. “He is ready to have active conversations about Britain’s relationship with the slave trade,” she said. “Future plans about having honest and true discussions about how things can be repaired and how Britain can make some real steps. It’s early days and positive conversations and willingness for openness and engagement.” However, she added that “there’s no talk of reparations.”
Though there were reports of protests and arrests in the weeks after the late queen’s death was announced, this seems to be the first time a protester has gotten so close to the king during his reign. The incident is reminiscent of the late queen’s 1986 trip to New Zealand, where Maori protesters hit her with an egg to protest British sovereignty over the country.
Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.