The man allegedly stepped out of line, climbed the steps to touch and pull the flag draped over the casket, according to TMZ and People. As seen on a live feed of the Queen lying-in-state, British police tackled and arrested the man. The live stream was paused for about 15 minutes after the incident.
“We thought someone had fainted and then we heard someone shriek. Someone got up to the coffin, grabbed the flag and pulled it upwards. They picked up the bottom and wafted it, almost to see what was underneath. It happened so fast,” a witness said about the incident at the London building.
“Around 22:00hrs on Friday 16 September officers from the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command detained a man in Westminster Hall following a disturbance,” Metropolitan Police said in a statement following the incident.
Officials said the man was arrested under the Public Order Act and remains in custody. The suspect’s motives remain unclear.
Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral proceedings will begin Monday (September 20).