Cameron 'shocked' by attack on royal car

2010-12-10 09:12

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.

  • seanfaria - 2010-12-10 09:54

    LOL, they should have destroyed the Royal family 500 years already, too late to strt now

  • Witrot - 2010-12-10 10:00

    That is barbaric, to say the least..... I am not even English and I am ashamed.... While I am all for free education but to use violence to get your way reminds me of the child throwing a vloermoer and getting his way..): Shame on them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Mo_Afrika - 2010-12-10 10:43

      I would be as well if I always point fingers at blacks. This is what happens when anyone has been pushed to the limit

      devils-adv - 2010-12-10 11:17

      If you think these protests are violent wait and see how the violence will increase in the coming years. Citizens dissatisfaction at ever more alienating governments based on economic decisions that help the wealthy and corporations are only going to increase and become more volatile. The government clearly lied in this case and the students should have burned London to the ground. It's only a matter of time!

  • Colonialist - 2010-12-10 10:12

    It does show that the sort of violent mindless idiocy we see in our own demonstrating crowds is not a characteristic of the black or the stupid, but is also a mob characteristic in 'intelligent' residents of 'advanced' countries.

      hilary.keenansmith - 2010-12-10 10:32

      Well said .....

      Mo_Afrika - 2010-12-10 10:44

      lol...u missed white

      Gee - 2010-12-10 11:14

      @Mo he did write intelligent and advanced meaning white

      Perfume - 2010-12-10 15:14

      hmmmmmm @Gee and only the whites are advanced and intelligent *sighs*

  • Eric - 2010-12-10 10:24

    the british police lack the courage or will power to stop riots , in sa we would crush the riot. If the communist rioters fail to respect the law ... then shoot them ... fear the law or respect the law ... they will still obey the law

      MaLemmer - 2010-12-10 11:18

      Didn't see that happen at the Union Buildings earlier against the rioting Defence Force troops... maybe think before you type!

      Mark - 2010-12-10 11:41

      malemmer , catch a wakeup ... read the news ... i have attached a link for you ... "The soldiers were fired after they staged an illegal and violent march to the Union Buildings demanding better pay and working conditions in August last year." the riot was crushed

  • Goose - 2010-12-10 10:27

    Coming from university students, it is utterly pathetic. I agree that fees cannot rocket like that but equally, violence is totally unacceptable. These students are the future leaders of their country. If this is the calibre of future leaders then heaven help the UK!

      Mo_Afrika - 2010-12-10 10:45

      No they will never be leaders, they are not royal...none of them is. lol

  • Gorilla - 2010-12-10 10:41

    I am taking my family to london for chistmas... I want to know if we will be safe. Maybe we should stay in hilbrow. Bloody yobs.

  • Howzitekse - 2010-12-10 10:49

    And we thought Fawlty Towers was their finest hour.

  • CarNutter - 2010-12-10 10:49

    I was going to offer to send some of our "talented" protesters over to help the cause but apparently their guys seem to have every thing under control. Hahhahahaha

  • Pleb - 2010-12-10 10:56

    Shouldn't Britain deport every single last Indian - How is it that them together with France Australia and many other countries have allowed them in - parasites that should go back to their own countries

      Parko - 2010-12-12 17:31

      F U 2 dickface. What have Indians got to do with this ? Ashamed that whites are bahving badly ?

  • TinyT - 2010-12-10 11:04

    It is very sad that England thinks by making education unaffordable that they will help the country in any way. When you have empty universities and a totally uneduated nation, how will things work?

      MaLemmer - 2010-12-10 11:20

      For the answer, just look at SA!

  • Makutu - 2010-12-10 11:05

    I wonder how much of the British Tax Payers money goes to sponsoring thir "royal" family. How about stoping this whole royal things and educating yourpeople. I'm sure a more educated nation is much better than Queen Elizabeth and whoever... Driving Rolls Royces and the like. How does the royal actually benefit anybody? They should have done what the Greeks did, set the Police alight!

      MaLemmer - 2010-12-10 11:21

      Google can help you with your questions, but then, I suppose you can't do things for yourself!

      Makutu - 2010-12-10 11:29

      I can't do things for myself?

  • garyhirson - 2010-12-10 11:10

    The global natives are becoming restless

  • flrala002 - 2010-12-10 11:15

    I cant believe that in 2010 , we still have a royal family, so much money and power, property.... that their family never have to work. What exactly do they actually do again?

      Makutu - 2010-12-10 11:37

      Apparently, they organize national events and go to abortion rallies.

  • Akweerius - 2010-12-10 11:41

    No Cameron, what's "shocking and regrettable" is the increase in tuition fees!!!!!

  • Barry M - 2010-12-10 11:53

    Sky interviewed one of these students - he was rabbitting on about the taxi that the "Royal Couple" were travelling in. That shows you how dof these yobs are - he doesn't know the difference between a Rolls Royce with the Prince of Wales coat of arms on the roof and doors and a London Cab - what a chump!

  • matthewsrich - 2010-12-10 11:58

    The problem that caused this rapid increase in university fees is the massive budget deficit created by the Blair-Brown administrations over the last decade. There wasteful expenditure and apparent lack of financial control created a situation that if not corrected will lead to the downfall of the British economy in the next 5 years. What the students are seeing is their fees being increased, but the big picture, which will secure their future jobs and will be more important. This however will only become visible in 5-10 years.

  • Barbara - 2010-12-10 12:01

    Isn't it wonderful to read a story this like about another country? Normally it is us ... lolo

  • Otello - 2010-12-10 14:58

    Dumb them down Cameron.

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