Readers' letters: The right to protest is fundamental to democracy

It was rather concerning to note the policing of anti-monarchist protests at events to mark the late Queen’s passing.

Most recently this saw a man who was shouting at Prince Andrew being dragged away by members of the public and arrested by the police. This follows other recent incidents which saw a woman arrested on the Royal Mile and charged for carrying what was deemed to be an offensive sign.

Regardless of where you stand on the monarchy, I find this concerning behaviour by the police. The right for people to peacefully express their views is fundamental to democracy, and not something people should be arrested for. To quote author Evelyn Beatrice Hall, paraphrasing what she thought the French philosopher Voltaire was thinking: “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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What appears to be cracking down on freedom of speech is a concern, and Police Scotland clearly have questions to answer for what appears to be rather heavy-handed behaviour.

Members of the public queue to pay their respects to the Queen as she lies at rest at St Giles' Cathedral
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Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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Concerns raised over arrest of anti-royal protesters in Scotland and England
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Harvie's speech

It was with regret that I read of Patrick Harvie's so-called contribution to paying tribute to the late Queen; but without surprise as he continues to misuse his position in the parliament: a position granted not through electoral success but through the SNP's perceived need to bolster its position.

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I suggest that he reflects that our nation, almost unanimously (irrespective of political viewpoint), wishes to pay tribute to a life of service, constancy and dedication and has nothing but disdain for individuals like Mr Harvie who will use any opportunity, to feed their own egotism, and to air views that few will listen to if uttered in a correct and appropriate context.

I am not a royalist as such but do have the utmost respect for what the Queen contributed. I also have to admit that my love of creation and a desire to see good stewardship of our planet has been encouraged more by royalty, (especially King Charles III) than anything that has come out of the Green Party.

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James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

Memorable music

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It was wonderful and fitting to hear, even fleetingly, the clarsach, the Scottish harp, being played during the moving service of thanksgiving for the life of Her Majesty in St Giles’ Cathedral.

In its historic form, the clarsach was heard hundreds of years ago at the Scottish court and in its modern form it now features in traditional and contemporary music in its own right as well as a beautiful accompaniment for Scottish and Gaelic song. The intensity of the still and beautiful moments created by the lovely singing of Karen Mathieson complemented by the sensitive musicianship of Catriona McKay were truly memorable.

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Isobel Mieras, Edinburgh

Royal visit

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Her Majesty the Queen paid her first post-Coronation visit to Edinburgh just three weeks after that event.

From Galloway, my mother took a window box in Jenners for the occasion and there I stood, aged seven, dressed in my new bottle-green smocked dress and saw Her Majesty ride below in her open carriage, accompanied, of course, by the Duke of Edinburgh. I expect we lunched at the Roxburgh Hotel afterwards, as we usually did on visits to the lawyer and the optician. Never to be forgotten. I will be paying my respects for her long life at St Giles’ Cathedral.

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Cicely McCulloch, Penicuik, Midlothian

The Queen’s bier

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The last time a bier bearing a reigning monarch (not spouse) was conveyed through the streets of Edinburgh was in 1542, when it conveyed the body of James V from Falkland to Holyrood , where the remains of four monarchs lay on Sunday night (David II, James II, James V, Elizabeth).

It was he, also, who commissioned the crown which bedecked the late Queen's coffin in St Giles’, the oldest of any extant monarchy in Europe.

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Hamish Allan, Edinburgh

Wake up, Scotland

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Seeing the enormous turnout in Scotland to pay respects to the late Queen Elizabeth, I am prompted to ask why at the same time, the people of Scotland have voted for a dysfunctional SNP governing body at Holyrood whose principal obsession is the dismantling of the Union that was so dear to the heart of Queen Elizabeth and so many more of us. This obsession seems to be justified by events of the 16th century and an absolute refusal to see the world as it is in the 21st century and beyond.

Scotland, can we please wake up from our cosy dreams before it is too late for our country and its people, begin ignoring the various self-promoting pundits in our media, and reflect more deeply on the benefits we have all gained over past years from being part of the most respected and democratic union on earth.

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Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Sturgeon’s oath

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It was gratifying to see Nicola Sturgeon sign the oath following the speech in which King Charles III undertook to uphold "the acts passed in the parliament of both kingdoms for union of the two kingdoms”. And so say all of us!

I trust that Ms Sturgeon’s ardent supporters will take note of her endorsement of the union of Scotland and England in the United Kingdom.

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Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Modern monarch

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How can we possibly predict how the monarchy will evolve? I note that former prime minister Gordon Brown feels that it will develop more along the lines of the Scandinavian model (Scotsman, 12 September). By this he probably means a more informal approach, less emphasis on pageantry, indeed a much lower public profile.

It may be that King Charles, perhaps because of his age, perhaps because of his own outlook, would prefer that. But neither he nor Mr Brown can ignore two things: the dangerous, insecure world in which we live, with the need for constant security, and the almost insatiable appetite of the public here and abroad for details of the royals' private lives, their dress, their mannerisms and where they stand on a number of social and economic issues.

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Even if the “pared down” approach was to operate in Charles's reign, it may well lead to a backlash when William and Catherine accede eventually to the throne. This may be another 20 years away at least. But if the King is to fulfil his duties on the national and international stage, he will be followed by a keen entourage. It would be unrealistic to assume he could operate in the same way as his Scandinavian counterparts, who many international observers would struggle to name.

His main challenge will be to show that a constitutional monarch can continue to work, that it is a better means to achieve social progress than the republican model. He will need all his diplomatic and publicity skills to achieve that.

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Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Elected heads

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When eventually things settle down, the old arguments about heads of state will no doubt arise again. The clinching argument for any debate on an elected head of state as opposed to a constitutional monarchy is surely the examples of Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Saddam Hussein and even Adolf Hitler, all of whom were elected.

Both systems tend to throw up extremely bad apples every so often, but, in general, a monarchy tends to be above politics. Perhaps something more akin to the Scandinavian model would be the answer, if indeed one is needed.

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Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Where to build?

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I agree with Andrew HN Gray (Letters, 12 September) that Edinburgh has enough care homes. Indeed, the council has recently closed modern care homes such as Drumbrae and Ferryfield. I would, however, support suitable non-productive land being developed in proximity to the city centre. Edinburgh has the least population density of Scotland’s four major cities partly because there are huge open spaces like the Braid and Blackford Hills, fantastic for recreational use. There is a shortage of housing and it better aligns with government development policy to realise that demand as high density units close to employment and services than expand into former green belt land, creating urban sprawl.

In West Edinburgh high-quality current and former agricultural land is being destroyed forever for housing. A huge new housing estate at West Craigs near the Maybury will soon be joined by the David Murray backed Garden District stretching from Gogar to Riccarton to the west of the bypass. With further development at West Town and the Gyle a total of up to 20,000 units are scheduled to be built, much of it in former green belt land, by 2030. This population of the capital is expected to swell to over 550,000 by 2028, an increase nearly four times the Scottish average in a decade.

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Edinburgh has not seen new development on this scale for generations and the concern is the effect on road, school and health infrastructure. Rather than destroy thousands of acres of former green belt land, planners would be advised to look east to wasteland within the bypass, closer to the city centre. Planners should indeed listen to public opinion, otherwise residents and wildlife will suffer as a result.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

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Our coverage

Sincere compliments are due to you, your photographers and editorial staff for the two excellent picture supplements published with Monday’s paper. In particular, The Queen’s Final Journey must have been produced from scratch and against a very tight deadline. Professional journalism at its best!

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Andrew Broom, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

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We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line. Do not send letters submitted elsewhere. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.

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