Queen Elizabeth II: Stopping protests while people publicly mourn late monarch is not an affront to freedom of speech – John McLellan

From people whose regard for the monarchy is, shall we say, limited, there have been pompous expressions of concern about freedom of speech, because of the way police dealt with protests during Monday’s royal procession to St Giles.

Protests were allowed the day before at the Proclamation and again on Tuesday, but the support for the individual who shouted abuse at Prince Andrew as he walked behind his mother’s coffin up the Canongate, was as remarkable as the claim that his subsequent detention by police was some sort of affront to democracy.

I bow to no-one in my belief in the right to express views, but I don’t go along with the argument that the vilest abuse must be tolerated while a physical reaction under extreme provocation is always unacceptable.

And it’s a warped logic to argue stopping someone bellowing insults at a man as he escorts his mother’s body to church is some sort of democratic outrage.

Prince Andrew walks with his brothers and sister behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin on the Royal Mile on Monday (Picture: Robert Perry/Getty Images)

Prince Andrew’s considerable failings, to put them mildly, have been well documented, his reputation shredded and this week his humiliation was complete, but those abusing someone as they honour their dead mother have little decency themselves.

It’s hardly surprising others in the crowd took action and dragged him away from the cortege, and no wonder police stood guard in case he ended up with an unplanned visit to the dental hospital.

We live in a country where views are freely expressed, even extending to vandalism, but doing so in the most sensitive of circumstances will always have consequences.