Man charged with breaching the peace after heckling Prince Andrew in Edinburgh

13 September 2022, 11:09 | Updated: 13 September 2022, 11:44

A man has been charged with breaching the peace after he heckled Prince Andrew on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
A man has been charged with breaching the peace after he heckled Prince Andrew on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Picture: Alamy/Supplied

By Lauren Lewis

A man has been charged with breaching the peace after he heckled Prince Andrew in Edinburgh.

The 22-year-old was arrested on Monday "in connection with a breach of the peace on the Royal Mile", Police Scotland said.

Footage on social media shows a young man in the crowd on the Royal Mile, appearing to shout: “Andrew, you’re a sick old man.”

Mourners reacted with fury, leading to a scuffle in the crowd before the heckler was eventually pushed towards police officers.

Footage shows the young man being pushed to the ground and led away by police as a member of the public shouts, "disgusting".

The heckler can then be heard saying, "oi, I've done nothing wrong", as an officer grabs him and leads him away from the crowd.

The Duke of York was joined by his siblings, King Charles III, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, as the Queen's body was carried from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to nearby St Giles' Cathedral.

Prince Andrew was disgraced by a sex abuse scandal involving his paedophile billionaire friend Jeffrey Epstein which was a great source of embarrassment to the Royal Family.

It comes after the Metropolitan Police today said people "absolutely have a right to protest" against the monarchy.

The Metropolitan Police issued a statement following a viral video from Parliament Square in central London, when a barrister who was holding up a blank piece of paper was asked for his details by an officer.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said: "We're aware of a video online showing an officer speaking with a member of the public outside the Palace of Westminster earlier today.

"The public absolutely have a right of protest and we have been making this clear to all officers involved in the extraordinary policing operation currently in place and we will continue do so.

"However, the overwhelming majority of interactions between officers and public at this time have been positive as people have come to the capital to mourn the loss of Her Late Majesty the Queen."

Read more: Queen’s coffin procession route through London revealed

Paul Powlesland, 36, a barrister and nature rights activist from Barking in east London, had travelled into the centre of the capital on Monday afternoon with "a blank piece of paper".

"Why would you ask for my details?" he can be heard asking the officer in a video, who said: "I wanted to make sure you didn't have bail conditions (inaudible)."

The officer replied: "You said you were going to write stuff on it, that may offend people, around the King. It may offend someone."

Mr Powlesland said the officer told him he risked being arrested if he wrote "not my King" on the paper.

Elsewhere, a 22-year-old woman was charged in connection with a breach of the peace after being arrested during the Accession Proclamation for the King outside St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday.

She was released from custody and is due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date.

Symon Hill, 45, was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence after shouting "Who elected him?" when he came across a public formal reading of the proclamation of the accession for the King in Carfax, Oxford.

Mr Hill, who works part-time at the Peace Pledge Union, a secular pacifist organisation, was later de-arrested.

He told LBC "They actually gave a different explanation as to which law it was under, so they seemed quite confused themselves, but I don’t think I caused anybody alarm or distress."

Tom argued: "Well you might have done, I guess the point is you don’t know."

Hill responded: "Well most people didn’t even hear me and to be honest I do think that most people can cope with hearing a view they disagree with without being distressed or alarmed."

Protester says his arrest at King Charles proclamation is ‘suppression of democracy’

Read more: First Royal fans descend on London ahead of Queen's coffin's arrival as mourners warned of 30-hour queues

Hill went on to say: "I didn’t disturb anything to do with mourning and grief for the previous Queen.

"In Britain we have a proud tradition of campaigning for free speech and democracy and if in the 21st century we have to accept being told who our lord and king is without being able to question it, that’s very worrying."

Tom countered: "Time and place though, isn’t it Symon?"

In response Hill said: "The time and place was the time and place when he was being proclaimed as king. So if you can’t object when somebody is being proclaimed to be your head of state, then when can you object?"

He also said some pro-monarchists were saying things such as: "I don’t agree with him but surely he’s got a right to free speech.

"If this sort of behaviour by the police goes on, whether or not someone agrees with me about monarchy, their rights too are being threatened."

Meanwhile, a protester bearing a hand-made sign saying "not my king" was ushered away from the Palace of Westminster by police.

The incident happened as the King was due to arrive for his address to MPs and peers in Westminster Hall on Monday morning.

The woman was spoken to by police before being escorted away from the entrance to the Palace by a group of officers.

Under Scottish law, someone can be charged with a public order offence of breaching the peace if their behaviour is disorderly and could have a negative effect on those who witness it such as swearing or shouting.

Andrew Marr's devastating takedown of 'idiotic heavy-handed policing'

Read more: Queen's coffin to be flown to London and King to travel to Northern Ireland on day four of London Bridge

In England and Wales, offences of disorderly behaviour - such as threatening or abusive language, behaviour, signs or writing - which is likely to cause others present harassment, alarm or distress fall under section 5 of the Public Order Act and could lead to a fine.

A number of campaign groups have expressed concern at the way officers are policing protests as the new King is declared, with some warning the arrests may be unlawful.

Ruth Smeeth, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said the arrests were "deeply concerning", adding: "The fundamental right to freedom of expression, including the right to protest, is something to be protected regardless of circumstance."

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said: "If people are being arrested simply for holding protest placards then it is an affront to democracy and highly likely to be unlawful."

Jodie Beck, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said: "Protest is not a gift from the State, it is a fundamental right. Being able to choose what, how, and when we protest is a vital part of a healthy and functioning democracy."

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