Review of UK royal security due

2010-12-14 11:02

London - An urgent review of security for Britain's royal family will be delivered this week following an attack on a car carrying Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, interior minister Theresa May said on Monday.

May said anarchists and street gangs had infiltrated student protests that ended in rioting in central London last Thursday. Protesters battered their way into the Treasury and fought with police after parliament approved plans to increase tuition fees for university students.

Blaming police tactics was "ridiculous and unfair" when protesters had unleashed a barrage of stones, paint, golf balls and flares and attacked officers with metal barriers, May said.

One of the defining images of the protests was that of Charles and wife Camilla open-mouthed in horror when protesters attacked their Rolls-Royce en route to a London theatre, cracking a window and spattering the limousine with paint.

Although the couple were unhurt, the attack raised questions about royal security, which will be in the spotlight next year when Charles' son Prince William marries in Westminster Abbey.

A review of how the royal family is protected will be completed by Friday, May told lawmakers.

Protest infiltrated

The home secretary blamed the violence, for which 35 people have been arrested, on a combination of errant students, hard-core activists and street gangs.

"These acts were not perpetrated by a small minority but by a significant number of troublemakers," she said.

"Some students behaved disgracefully, but the police also assess that the protests were infiltrated by organised groups of hard-core activists and street gangs bent on violence."

There were 2 800 police on the streets around parliament.

Officers in riot helmets fought protesters and mounted police charged the crowd. Another controversial police tactic employed was "kettling", the corralling of large numbers of protesters in a restricted space for hours.

Critics say this causes tension to boil over into violence.

May said she did not want to see water cannon used on the streets of London.