Hong Kong police filmed people as they left a Hong Kong church on Sunday after attending a service to pay their last respects to Britain’s late Queen Elizabeth II.

St John’s Cathedral in Central. Photo: St John’s Cathedral, via Facebook.

Around a dozen police officers were on stand-by outside St John’s Cathedral in Central that evening, some of whom recorded churchgoers as they walked out, according to Initium Media.

In response to HKFP, police said the force had deployed “appropriate manpower to maintain public order and ensure public safety.”

The force’s media relations team added that when necessary, officers will be mobilised to “undertake filming… for internal review so as to continuously improve the management of and response to public events.”

According to St John Cathedral’s social media pages, the church held a choral evensong – a type of church service that involves the singing of prayers – to honour the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

HKFP has reached out to the church for comment.

The British monarch died at the age of 96 earlier this month. Her death prompted crowds of Hongkongers to line up outside the British consulate to sign a book of condolences and leave floral tributes.

Some academics have linked the outpouring of grief in the former British colony to politics, calling it an expression of dissatisfaction with the state of Hong Kong – with dissent essentially outlawed under the national security law. Others, however, did not see the mourning as a protest, believing it was related to nostalgia for a simpler time.

The orderly queueing outside the consulate went on without incident until last Monday, the day of the Queen’s funeral. That night, police arrested a 43-year-old man under the sedition law. He was reportedly playing “Glory to Hong Kong” – the unofficial anthem of the 2019 protests – on the harmonica.

Tributes to the Queen outside the British consulate. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

The government has banned the song from being played in schools, but has not confirmed if it is illegal.

The police’s filming of churchgoers after the service came a day after officers recorded football fans booing the Chinese national anthem at Hong Kong Stadium, where the city’s team was playing against Myanmar in a friendly match.

The city passed a law in 2020 criminalising disrespectful acts towards the Chinese anthem, with a maximum penalty of three years in jail.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.