A man arrested for heckling Prince Andrew as the Queen’s cortege passed along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has been charged.
The 22-year-old man, who was not named by Police Scotland, is accused of a “breach of the peace” - the same offence used to charge a woman who held up an “abolish monarchy” sign during the proclamation of Charles III on Sunday.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A 22-year old man was arrested and charged in connection with a breach of the peace on the Royal Mile around 2.50pm on Monday.
”He was released on an undertaking to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.“
Footage showed the man shouting at Prince Andrew over allegations related to his former friend, American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, as he walked in the Queen’s funeral cortege as part of the royal family.
He was dragged backwards by bystanders and arrested by police at the scene, telling an officer: “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
It was one of several arrests and police interventions against anti-monarchy protesters, which have alarmed human rights groups.
A woman who held an “abolish monarchy” sign at a proclamation ceremony for King Charles III in Edinburgh on Sunday was also arrested for “breach of the peace”.
She has been charged under a 2010 law that covers behaviour “likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm” and will appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 30 September.
In Oxford, a man was arrested under the Public Order Act for alleged behaviour causing “harassment, alarm or distress” on Sunday.
Symon Hill, 45, told The Independent he called out “who elected him?” when Charles III was officially proclaimed king and called the police response an “outrageous assault on democracy”.
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said he was arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act, which contains an offence of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour that could cause bystanders “harassment, alarm or distress”.
On Monday, a police officer in London demanded the details of a barrister who held up a “blank piece of paper” in Parliament Square.
Paul Powlesland filmed his interaction with an officer who claimed that the sign “may offend” people if he wrote “not my King” on it.
Police were seen moving a woman holding a placard saying “not my king” near the Houses of Parliament on Monday morning, but said the measure was related to the security around a major entrance and she was not arrested.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said the public “absolutely have a right to protest”.
“We have been making this clear to all officers involved in the extraordinary policing operation “The overwhelming majority of interactions between officers and the public at this time have been positive.“
Asked about the incidents in a daily press conference on Monday, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “This is a period of national mourning for the vast vast majority of the country, but the fundamental right to protest remains the keystone of our democracy.”
The campaign Republic called for an “open and free debate” on the future of the monarchy, saying many people objected to the accession of Charles III “without debate or consent”.
Spokesperson Graham Smith added: “We are deeply concerned to see people being arrested for peaceful protest. The police, media and politicians all need to understand that the accession is a contentious event and people have the right to speak up and be heard.”
Silkie Carlo, the director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, told The Independent that violating freedom of speech would “flagrantly disrespect the values that define our country”.
She added: “If people are being arrested simply for holding protest placards then it is an affront to democracy and highly likely to be unlawful. Police officers have a duty to protect people’s right to protest as much as they have a duty to facilitate people's right to express support, sorrow, or pay their respects.”
Jodie Beck, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said people must be able to stand up for what they believe in “without facing the risk of criminalisation”.
“It is very worrying to see the police enforcing their broad powers in such a heavy-handed and punitive way to clamp down on free speech and expression,” she added.
Adam Wagner, a barrister who specialises in human rights law, said freedom of speech was “as important a value in times of public mourning as it is at any other time” and that calls for abolishing the monarchy were a historic tradition of British protest.
“Times of public emotional sentiment are often danger times for rights, as people forget, temporarily, that a liberal society benefits from multiple points of view,” he wrote on Twitter.