Queen death Edinburgh: Man who tackled Prince Andrew heckler says he feared for King Charles' safety

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Man who tackled heckler at Queen’s funeral procession says he would ‘do it again’

A construction worker who tackled a man shouting at Prince Andrew during the Queen’s funeral procession has said he did so because he feared for the safety of King Charles III.

Craig Thomson, from Prestonpans, was arrested and charged with assault after pulling a protester to the ground just a few feet from the new Monarch, after the man shouted at Prince Andrew and climbed a security fence. Mr Thomson, 34, said he thought it was a ‘wind up’ when he was charged by police as he believes he was acting as a good citizen. The charges have since been dropped.

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Since the incident in September, Mr Thomson said he has been on the receiving end of “loads of abuse” online but also said he’d got many messages of support. “It was madness. As far as I was concerned I was just being a good citizen,” he said. “The guy could have attacked the King. Or he could have attacked the Queen’s coffin. I feel that the situation could have got a lot worse if I hadn’t done what I did.”

Several arrests were made over as thousands arrived in Edinburgh to witness the Queen’s coffinSeveral arrests were made over as thousands arrived in Edinburgh to witness the Queen’s coffin
Several arrests were made over as thousands arrived in Edinburgh to witness the Queen’s coffin

Mr Thomson was among thousands who gathered for the procession of Her Majesty’s hearse from the city’s Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral on September 12. The cortege was followed on foot by King Charles as well as his sister, the Princess Royal, and his brothers, the Dukes of York and Wessex.

In the packed crowds Mr Thomson heard a man shouting – then saw him climb the security fence. He recalls the split second when he knew he had to step in. Speaking to The Scottish Sun, he said: “I’m a big supporter of the monarchy. In my family, the late Queen was always an influential figure. So I was there to pay my respects.

“There had been shouting prior to the hearse passing where I was standing. People were yelling that the Royal Family is corrupt. I couldn’t see where it was coming from. The area was packed. But as the King and the rest of the Royals approached where I was, all I could hear was this man shouting. I could not make out what he was saying, all I could hear was noise.

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“That’s when I saw that the guy had mounted the security fence. People around me were starting to panic and were backing away from him. Nobody knew what was going to happen."

Mr Thomson said he was worried when he noticed that officers hadn't intervened so decided to take matters into his own hands and grabbed the 22-year-old heckler by the shoulders from behind to stop him scaling the security barrier. The man lost his balance and hit the ground. Craig recalled: “I just wanted to stop any trouble. I took that action purely because I thought the guy was going to jump the fence. "

He added: “I restrained him to get him back from the fence. I certainly did not assault him. I put my hands on his shoulders and I pulled him back. The weight difference probably meant that I pulled him a bit harder than what I meant to. The man ended up falling backwards and landing on the ground.”

The protester was taken away by police and Mr Thomson said he was told by officers to go home. But days later he got a call to come into the station in relation to the incident.

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He said: “As far as I was concerned I had carried out a good citizen act. But, lo and behold, the police phoned me days later. They said they’d like to speak to me regarding an incident and asked if I could hand myself in. CID got involved. They said the case was high profile because the royal family was involved. Then they charged me with assault. At first I thought it was a wind-up. They also asked me whether I would be willing to testify against the protester but I declined. I had no reason to try to get that young laddie into trouble. I’ve not got any grievance against him.”

Police said two men, both 34, had been “arrested and charged in connection with assault” over the incident. But the procurator fiscal has since dropped the charges.

Later when he saw TV footage of the incident Mr Thomson found out the protester had been shouting “Sick old man” at the Duke of York. He said he’s relieved the charges have been dropped – but doesn’t regret his actions.

"If I was in a public space and I saw someone acting the way that person did, I would do it again. At that moment in time I didn’t realise what he was shouting. His anger was directed at Prince Andrew. But I thought he was being very disrespectful. There’s a time and a place to be shouting — and that wasn’t it. It was a funeral procession for the Queen.

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“Shouting at Prince Andrew isn’t going to make one bit of difference. However, what I found very strange was that the police just stood and watched him. And I said that to them when they arrested me.”

The Crown later reported there would be “no proceedings” against the pair after “careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the available admissible evidence”. A spokesman said: “We reserve the right to proceed in future if it’s appropriate and in the public interest.”

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