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Patrick thelwell egg King Charles York
via Instagram (@unite.the.earth)

Patrick Thelwell: we speak to the activist accused of egging the King

‘[The reactions from the public were] quite shocking, but also entirely predictable because fascism melts people’s brains’

Just two weeks ago, climate activists from Just Stop Oil planted a chocolate cake squarely onto the wax face of the King at Madame Tussauds. Royalists were horrified by the stunt: the Mail branded the activist group an “eco mob” while the Sun opted to describe them as “eco-loons” for ramming a dessert into the weaselly little face of Charles’ likeness. 

At the time, no one could have predicted that this was a portent for what was to come during the monarch’s recent visit to York. This wasn’t to be the last time a comestible was launched at the sovereign by a climate activist.

But on Wednesday November 9, Charles and Camilla were visiting York and greeting crowds when a man launched three eggs in their direction. “This country was built on the blood of slaves”, the young man shouted, before yelling “not my king” at Charles. Police swiftly pounced on him and wrestled him to the ground while the King and Queen Consort were quickly ushered away.

The man behind the stunt is, allegedly, 23-year-old Patrick Thelwell, an International Relations student at the University of York. He’s a man of many talents: as well as being a potentially adept egg-thrower, he’s also a member of Extinction Rebellion, helped to organise a student rent strike at York, and ran as the ‘Gardener and Green Party candidate’ in the local elections in 2021. This wasn’t his first experience of being arrested, either – he’s previously been arrested at least five times for his activism. For this most recent alleged action, he is now reportedly facing a fine of £5,000 and up to six months behind bars.

We spoke to Thelwell about his whirlwind week.

Please could you tell me a bit about your alleged decision to egg Charles? When and why did you decide to do it?

Patrick Thelwell: OK, so for legal reasons, I can’t say I did [egg Charles]. But I can talk about how I feel about the Royal Family.

I don’t believe in kings. I don’t believe in monarchy. I believe that all people are equal. I don’t believe in nation-states either – if one person’s life has more value than another’s based on their passport, then that’s an unjust system that needs dismantling or replacing with a global democracy that values all life, and not just human life as well. [I want to] protest, not just against the monarchy in the UK, but the entire system of global governance.

Also, King Charles has this reputation of being an environmentalist, which I just find laughable. If he was really an environmentalist and was concerned about helping the people of the world build resilience to climate breakdown, then he would renounce the throne and stand as one of us. You can’t have it both ways: jetting off in private jets around the world to make speeches about climate changes… it’s not exactly walking the walk.

What was it like in the crowd after the alleged egging? How did the police respond?

Patrick Thelwell: So the police grabbed me straight away. They had their thumbs in my eyes, members of the crowd were ripping my hair out. It was quite shocking, but also entirely predictable because fascism melts people’s brains. People were just screaming. It was quite funny, really. It’s not my first rodeo either, in terms of getting arrested or experiencing situations like that. So I was quite calm. The police were holding their hands over my mouth, trying to get me to stop talking, but then a bunch of cameras showed up and then they let me speak my piece which was good.

What happened afterwards – are you OK now?

Patrick Thelwell: So, afterwards, I spent 12 hours in a cell. It was not that bad. I slept most of the time. And now I’ve been bailed on the condition I stay away from the king and I can’t carry eggs in public.

The messages of support have also been overwhelming. I’ve had people from Palestine, Jordan, Iran, indigenous people from Canada, and people around the world just letting me know that they support what I did. That means a lot to me – it means more than outrage from gammon and monarchists who are happy to kneel before someone who was best friends with Jimmy Savile.

Why eggs?

Patrick Thelwell: There’s a proud tradition of egging royals. Eggs are just really funny too. Hilarious egg puns have been popping off. I don’t know. Eggs.

What else would you like to throw at other members of the royal family?

Patrick Thelwell: Although it’s gratifying to see people in positions of power be brought down a peg or two, I’d much prefer to see the Royal Family arrested than have anything thrown at them.

They should be held accountable for the crimes against humanity committed by the British state. That’s what I think the next step should be, and I think that applies to all the authoritarian leaders and tyrants around the world. They should be afraid of the people of the world uniting.