Scottish police charge man who heckled Prince Andrew during procession

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Britain mourns Queen Elizabeth

LONDON (Reuters) - A man who heckled Queen Elizabeth's son Prince Andrew as he walked behind his mother's coffin during a solemn procession in Edinburgh on Monday has been charged with breaching the peace, Police Scotland said on Tuesday.

The attitude of crowds publicly mourning the queen since she died last Thursday has been overwhelmingly respectful, but a few dissenters have been arrested, drawing media attention in Britain where the right to protest is highly prized.

"A 22-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with a breach of the peace on the Royal Mile around 2.50 p.m. (1350 GMT) on Monday, 12 September, 2022," a Police Scotland spokesperson said.

Television footage on Monday showed a man heckling Andrew at that time while the prince and his siblings, including King Charles, were walking behind a hearse carrying their mother's coffin.

The incident caused a brief disturbance during which the heckler was pulled from the crowd by a member of the public before police officers took him away, the footage showed.

Andrew, 62, stepped down from royal duties in 2019 after clumsily seeking to justify his friendship with the late U.S. financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself that year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

In February this year, Andrew settled a U.S. lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, who accused Andrew of abusing her when she was a teenager. Andrew denied any wrongdoing and was not charged with any criminal offence.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners have congregated at places connected to the royal family in London and in Scotland, where the queen died at her Balmoral Estate, and to witness some of the solemn pageantry that has unfolded since her death.

Almost all of them have shown respect and sorrow, but the arrests of a tiny number of protesters have been covered by the media and have prompted comments on social media about the police response, which some users have deemed heavy-handed.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Liz Truss said he would not comment on operational policing decisions but said the right to protest remained a fundamental principle.

"This is a period of national mourning and indeed grief for the vast majority of the United Kingdom and I think that is what you're seeing playing out each day," he said.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon and Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Alexandra Hudson)