Protests in London this weekend: Pro-Palestine demonstrations on Armistice Day ahead of Remembrance Sunday

When and where are the pro-Palestine protest this weekend and does it coincide with Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday events?
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A major pro-Palestine march will go ahead in London on Armistice Day, the coalition organising the demonstration has vowed, amid pressure from government and the police to call it off.

Organisers say the protest will neither coincide with Remembrance services nor go past the Cenotaph.

Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have attended the protests, with the Met Police acknowledging they have largely taken place “peacefully and lawfully”.

Concerns have been raised ahead of this coming Armistice Weekend, when the UK pays respect to those who have died fighting as part of the UK Armed Forces.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has said the planned march would be “provocative and disrespectful” with “a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated”, while other government ministers have called for it to be cancelled.

The protest organisers - which include the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop The War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain - have refused, and invite “people of all conscience to join us in peacefully marching, as planned, from Hyde Park to the US Embassy”.

Hundreds of thousands of people have joined the pro-Palestine marches in London so far. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty ImagesHundreds of thousands of people have joined the pro-Palestine marches in London so far. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
Hundreds of thousands of people have joined the pro-Palestine marches in London so far. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

What happens on Armistice Weekend?

While Armistice Day itself is on Saturday (November 11), when a two-minute silence is held at 11am to mark the anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918, the Remembrance Sunday service will be the following day.

Always organised for the second Sunday of November, the main ceremony in London takes place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. 

Another national two-minute silence is marked by the firing of the guns from King’s Troop on Horse Guards Parade before the service begins, which typically lasts around 25 minutes.

On Saturday, a Festival of Remembrance will be held at the Royal Albert Hall, in South Kensington, paying tribute to “the two million national servicemen who served in the post-war years up until 1963”, says the Royal British Legion website.

Two performances are planned, one from 2pm until 3.55pm, and another from 7pm to finish by 8.45pm.

The 2022 Remembrance Sunday service, held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Credit: Louis Wood - WPA Pool/Getty Images.The 2022 Remembrance Sunday service, held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Credit: Louis Wood - WPA Pool/Getty Images.
The 2022 Remembrance Sunday service, held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Credit: Louis Wood - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

What protest is planned?

The pro-Palestine protest is organised for the Saturday, and is to go from Hyde Park to the US Embassy. Attendees are asked to gather from noon, with organisers saying it is expected to begin around 12.45pm.

The Met Police has requested the organisers “urgently reconsider” the event, due to concerns about the behaviour of breakaway groups. 

Since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, more than 160 people have been arrested for offences ranging from racially motivated public offences and violence. The police say the violence and disorder has escalated around the protests, often due to splinter groups “who have no interest in demonstration causes”. 

The Met Police

Deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan said: “The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups is growing.

“This is of concern ahead of a significant and busy weekend in the capital.

“Our message to organisers is clear: Please, we ask you to urgently reconsider. It is not appropriate to hold any protests in London this weekend.”

Organisers have refused to cancel the march, saying it is not expected to begin moving until nearly two hours after the commemorative silence, and that it will not pass Whitehall or the Cenotaph.

Coalition

In a statement, the coalition said it has been meeting with the police regularly, and finalised the route details of the march in a meeting with the force.

“At that meeting the police made clear, as reaffirmed in their statement, that the marches we had organised had been overwhelmingly peaceful with low levels of arrest,” they said. 

“They asked us to consider not marching this Saturday and postponing for a week because of the sensitivity of this weekend. It is categorically untrue that the police told us that it was not appropriate to protest this weekend. They raised a concern about the possibility of breakaway groups leaving the march but were not able to provide any evidence as to why this risk would be increased on Saturday November 11. 

“As we made clear in the meeting, we recognise the political pressure being placed on the police by the government and right wing political groups. However, we emphasise that they had and have a responsibility to withstand that pressure and act to uphold democratic freedoms including the right to protest.”

Ceasefire

Sadiq Khan is among those calling for a ceasefire, warning "substantial military escalation" will only "deepen the humanitarian disaster" in Gaza.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is under pressure from his party over his position, in which he calls instead for a "humanitarian pause". He has faced dissenting voices and councillor resignations.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has ruled out a ceasefire until hostages being held by Hamas are released.