MEGHAN Markle and the Queen will face protests on Thursday as the new Duchess of Sussex makes her royal debut with Her Majesty for a series of engagements in Cheshire this week.
Scrap Mersey Tolls (SMT), a campaign group strongly opposed to charges on the Gateway bridge, earlier announced they had brought forward their planned protest to Thursday to coincide with the royal visit.
Her Majesty will be officially opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge between Runcorn and Widnes and members of SMT say they welcome Meghan and the Queen’s visit.
Christine Roche, a member of SMT, said: “Scrap Mersey Tolls are welcoming the visit of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex to Widnes.
“We will be staging a demonstration at this event, not in opposition of a Royal Visit, this protest is in opposition of the tolling scheme on the Mersey Gateway, and when it reopens, the previously untolled Silver Jubilee Bridge.
“We view this visit a timely opportunity for our campaign group to take advantage of wider media exposure to highlight issue of a huge sum of money, approximately £20M in Tolls and fines, taken from motorists using an illegal tolling scheme which was ruled unenforceable by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.”
An online petition addressed to Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and the Mayor of Liverpool City Region by the group has already attracted more than 13,000 signatures.
Meghan and the Queen are expected to arrive in Cheshire early on Thursday morning with the protest scheduled to kick-off after 9am.
Protesters will meet near the Catalyst – Science Discovery Centre which the Queen and Meghan will visit during their busy day of schedule engagements.
The Scrap Mersey Tolls (SMT) protest event Facebook page said: “We were planning a demonstration near both ends of the old bridge on Friday 15th but it has now been announced on Thursday 14th the Queen will go to the Catalyst museum in Widnes to ‘open’ the new bridge.
“So instead of the 15th, we are now having a protest on Thursday 14th.
“The protest will be near the junction of Waterloo Road and Upper Mersey Street (the road that the Catalyst is on).
“We still don’t know what time the Queen and VIPs will arrive so we will be there from 9am.”
Nine people have so far confirmed they are going with an additional four people listed as interested.
The Scrap Mersey Tolls Facebook page has more than 4,400 members.
A SMT post on Facebook said: “We have discussed the exact location with the police. If we take up their suggestion then we will be just after the junction in Upper Mersey Road. The area will be cordoned off, so you will have to say you are a protestor.
“The authorities are being very tightlipped about the time that the Royal Party will arrive at the Catalyst, any official info we have had seems to have been misleading. So we are now working on the basis that it could be anytime from 9.00am onwards.”