FLAG-WAVING school children drowned out a noisy protest by grown-up anti-royal campaigners by screaming back at them: “He’s our King”.
Charles and Camilla unveiled the spectacular Eurovision 2023 stage and told UK entry Mae Muller they will be “egging” her on in the contest – before speaking about the shared bonds with war-torn Ukraine.
But a gaggle of republican campaigners aimed to spoil the party staged a protest wearing matching ‘Not My King’ yellow t-shirts and waving childish placards to oppose the royal couple as they arrived in Liverpool.
As around 50 protesters began chanting their downbeat motto they were immediately faced with ecstatic and noisier children who responded by shouting back “He’s Our King”.
A member of the public who attended to show their support for the King and Queen Consort, said: “We’re going to make as much noise as possible to drown the protesters out.”
There have been fears the nation is not excited about next Saturday’s coronation after a Panorama poll claimed 78 per cent of young people have no interest in the Royal Family and a third wants an elected head of state.
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said: “It is terrific to see. It is really encouraging as everyone is led to believe that the younger generation are not interested in the monarchy.
“But those children really spoke for millions across Britain who are fed up with protesters like that.
“Maybe because we haven’t seen a coronation for 70 years some younger people can’t get their heads around what the fuss is all about.
“It is possible that Charles and Camilla are a bit old for younger generations to get excited out.
“But people do seem to be supporting the idea of a monarchy because maybe for the simple reason that the selection of politicians is in such a terrible state.”
The King today told ‘I Wrote a Song’ star Mae Muller he would ‘egging on’ the UK’s Eurovision contestant while the Queen Consort demanded she avoid the feared ‘nul points’.
The couple met 25-year-old Mae at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, the host venue of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, where they pressed a button to officially reveal its colourful staging.
Charles told her: “Good luck, we’ll be watching with great interest, egging you on.”
Mae giggled and replied: “Thank you. No pressure. No nul points this year.’
Camilla agreed saying: “No nul points.”
The UK, who was runner-up last year, is hosting the event on behalf of Ukraine, who won Eurovision 2022 but is unable to host it because of Putin’s invasion.
Managing Director BBC Eurovision 2023 Martin Green started a countdown from ten before the couple pressed the button and the M&S Bank arena exploded with light, colour and sound.
The royal couple then moved onto the main stage to meet the hosts of Eurovision 2023, Ukrainian host, Julia Sanina, DJ Scott Mills, presenter Rylan Clark and Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham.
‘SUCH AN HONOUR’
Rylan told the King: “I have to be on my best behaviour because I’m on home turf now.”
Blue Peter presenter Joel Mawhinney then surprised the couple with a special gift.
He said: “Your Majesties, the very best of luck for the coronation and of course a thank you for all your amazing work empowering young people and your help with protecting the environment.
“To thank you even more we wanted to award you the highest accolade that we have a Blue Peter, that of course being these gold Blue Peter badges.”
Camilla replied: “How wonderful. Thank you very much.”
Afterwards Joel said: “It was such an honour to give the king his badge and the fact that he wasn’t expecting it made it so much better.”
Previous recipients include Queen Elizabeth, Sir David Attenborough, Sir Mo Farah and the Prince and Princess of Wales.
The King and Queen were then greeted with huge crowds on their trip – similar to vast numbers during other engagements around the country in the past seven months.
‘PROTEST THE CONCEPT OF MONARCHY’
Outside Liverpool Central Library flag-waving school children and well-wishers outnumbered the campaigners holding ‘Not My King’ placards.
The anti-royalists had advertised their protest online and through social media but only around 50 were estimated to have turned up and were hugely outnumbered by Liverpudlians who cheered the royal couple.
Ben Clinton, a 21-year-old member of Republic protest group, said: “This is part of our Not My King campaign we will be running past the coronation as well.
“We’re here to protest Charles and protest the concept of the monarchy in this country – we want a democratic vote for a head of state.
“We don’t think for the purposes of democracy and for the purposes of equality that having Charles as a King is good for this country.
“We will be chanting, we’ve got our placards out, we will make it a good protest atmosphere and really seize the day and have a good time.
“We are getting a lot of momentum. The coronation is a massive event for us, we’ve got over 1,000 pledging to protest in London and probably have more coming down in the day and make ourselves heard.”
The group’s chanting was further drowned out by the performances of the EuroBrass band with Resonate Liverpool Music Hub and Liverpool’s 100 Voices Choir, a choir of young people from local secondary schools.
Inside the library the King gave a speech on the importance of Britain supporting Ukraine and preserving books, as they spoke at a launch of a two-week festival celebrating links between our two nations.
Charles said it is “truly terrifying” that more than 300 libraries have been destroyed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska spoke via a live video link and said: “We thank you, Great Britain, for standing with us on this cultural front line and long live books and long live those who read them”.