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Buckingham Palace arrest fuels coronation security fears

The government is “in no way complacent” about security for the coronation of King Charles III, the security minister has said following the arrest of an armed man outside Buckingham Palace last night.

Tom Tugendhat told Sky News that “the intelligence services, the police and others have been working on this extremely effectively for months”. A huge security operation, code-named Operation Golden Orb, in place for the coronation on Saturday, which will draw world leaders and dignitaries from around the world.

Fears of protests and potential attacks were heightened after the unnamed man was arrested after throwing suspected shotgun cartridges into the palace grounds. He was held on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon.

The Metropolitan Police said the suspect had a knife but was not carrying a gun. He was also found to be in possession of a “suspicious bag”, BBC News reported, and a “controlled explosion was carried out as a precaution following an assessment by specialists”.

The incident is not being treated as terror-related, but rather “as an isolated mental health incident”, the broadcaster added.

Neither the King nor Queen Consort Camilla – who live at nearby Clarence House – were in the palace during the incident and planned overnight rehearsals for the coronation went ahead. 

Police have “put a ring of steel around London” as the preparations ramp up, said the Daily Mail

Tugendhat told TalkTV today that he believed protesters had been plotting for months to disrupt the coronation. The security operation, he said, aimed to counter “not just the kind of protest that we might face here, but of course with foreign leaders from around the world, heads of state and government, it could be protests from anywhere in the world”.

Tugendhat “stressed that MI5 and the intelligence services, MI6 and the GCHQ spy listening centre, were involved in the huge security operation, which will see hundreds of police officers deployed on the streets” of the capital, the London Evening Standard reported.

Snipers “will also be positioned on nearby rooftops”, said the Mail, plainclothes officers “will walk among the crowds”, and blockades  “to stop vehicles being driven into spectators” will be erected. Other security measures are expected to include airport-style screenings, armed patrols and a no-fly zone above central London.

Police have also “spent weeks on a pre-emptive operation looking at potential threats posed by royal obsessives and looking through social media for intelligence”, the paper added. 

Chris Phillips, the former head of the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office, told the BBC that police had been planning for the coronation for years.

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