Cameron 'shocked' by attack on royal car

2010-12-10 09:12
Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, react as their car is attacked by angry protesters in London. (Matt Dunham, AP)

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, react as their car is attacked by angry protesters in London. (Matt Dunham, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - British Prime Minister David Cameron has called the attack on Thursday by student protesters on a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, "shocking and regrettable".

"It is clear that a minority of protesters came determined to provoke violence, attack the police and cause as much damage to property as possible," Cameron said. "They must face the full force of the law."

Furious student protesters attacked a car carrying the royal couple, vandalised buildings and battled riot police on Thursday as a controversial hike in university fees triggered Britain's worst political violence in years.

In a major security breach, demonstrators set upon the heir to the throne's Rolls Royce as it drove through London's busy West End on its way to a theatre. A group of up to 20 struck it with fists, sticks and bottles, breaking a window and splattering the gleaming black vehicle with paint.

In the frenzy, some chanted "off with their heads!"

Adnan Nazir, a 23-year-old podiatrist who was following the protesters, said Charles, aged 62, kept his calm, gently pushing his 63-year-old wife toward the floor to get her out of the line of fire.

Couple unharmed

"Charles got her on the floor and put his hands on her," Nazir said. "Charles was still waving and giving the thumb's up.

"It was just a surreal thing," he said. "It was completely manic."

Charles' office, Clarence House, said the royal couple was unharmed. But the attack took police completely by surprise and raises serious security questions.

The chief of the Metropolitan Police, Paul Stephenson, said the force would launch an investigation into Thursday's violence.


Police said it was unclear whether the royals had been deliberately targeted, or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The couple arrived looking sombre but composed at the London Palladium theatre, where they were attending a Royal Variety Performance.

Tripling fees

Camilla later managed to shrug off the ordeal, saying there was "a first time for everything", the Press Association news agency reported.

Protesters erupted in anger after legislators in the House of Commons approved a plan to triple university fees to £9 000 a year.

As thousands of students were corralled by police near Parliament, some strummed guitars and sang Beatles songs - but others hurled chunks of paving stones at police and smashed windows in a government building.

Another group ran riot through the busy shopping streets of London's West End, smashing store windows and setting fire to a giant Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.

Police condemned the "wanton vandalism". They said 43 protesters and 12 officers had been injured, while 22 people were arrested. Police said the number of arrests would likely rise.

Home Secretary Theresa May said that "what we are seeing in London tonight, the wanton vandalism, smashing of windows, has nothing to do with peaceful protest".

Anger at vote

The violence overshadowed the tuition vote, a crucial test for governing Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and for the government's austerity plans to reduce Britain's budget deficit.

It was approved 323-302 in the House of Commons, a close vote given the government's 84-seat majority.

Many in the thousands-strong crowd outside booed and chanted "shame" when they heard the result of the vote, and pressed against metal barriers and lines of riot police penning them in.

Earlier small groups of protesters threw flares, billiard balls and paint bombs, and officers, some on horses, rushed to reinforce the security cordon.

The scuffles broke out after students marched through central London and converged on Parliament Square, waving placards and chanting "education is not for sale" to cap weeks of nationwide protests aimed at pressuring lawmakers to reverse course.

The vote put Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrat party in an awkward spot. Liberal Democrats signed a pre-election pledge to oppose any such tuition hike, and reserved the right to abstain in the vote even though they are part of the governing coalition proposing the change.

Broken promises

Those protesting were particularly incensed by the broken pledge from Clegg's party.

"I'm here because the Liberal Democrats broke their promise," said 19-year-old Kings College student Shivan David. "I don't think education should be free but I do think that tripling fees doesn't make any sense. We are paying more for less."

Clegg defended the proposals, saying the plans represent the "best possible choice" at a time of economic uncertainty.

But under intense political pressure, 21 Liberal Democrat lawmakers - more than a third of the total - voted against the fee hike. Another eight, including at least one government minister, abstained.

Experts warned that fallout from the policy could pose a greater risk after the vote.

"The real danger for the government is not that they won't pass it through, but that it will be a policy fiasco," said Patrick Dunleavy, a political science professor at the London School of Economics. "By picking this fight with the student body ... the government seems to have gotten itself into choppy water."

Cameron's government describes the move as a painful necessity to deal with a record budget deficit and a sputtering economy.

To balance its books, the UK passed a four-year package of spending cuts worth £81bn, which will eliminate hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs and cut or curtail hundreds of government programmes.

- SAPA

Read more on:    prince charles  |  david cameron  |  nick clegg  |  uk
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
32 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Gordons Bay - 18:30 PM
    Road name: R44 Faure Marine Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED at Suikerbossie Drive due to roadworks until 5am - traffic diverted - expect delays
  • Wednesday Kuils River - 18:01 PM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Pre-order the Xbox One

Get this all-in-one entertainment system with live TV, movies, social networking and gaming. Pre-order now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Your heart is big and you are sensitive to the needs of those around you. Your humanitarian side is emphasized today and you may...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.