Prince Charles and his wife Camilla had a nasty taste of student anger when the car carrying them to a theatre in the heart of central London on Thursday evening was attacked by young protesters minutes after Parliament voted to increase university tuition fee.
The windows of the stately black Rolls Royce, sometime used by the Queen, were shattered and the car splattered with white paint. Some in the crowd were seen kicking and banging the vehicle as it inched its way through a sea of protesters in Regent Street, a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus.
The couple were not harmed and the Duchess later joked that there was a ``first time for everything’’. Earlier, as protesters surrounded the car, Prince Charles reportedly made gestures suggesting that he was not to blame for the tuition fee increase.
Dramatic pictures of the visibly shaken couple dominated the front pages on Friday amid calls for an inquiry into what was seen as a serious breach of royal security. Police were under growing pressure to explain how Prince Charles and Camilla were allowed to end up bang in the middle of a crowd seething with anger.
``I don’t understand how the car was allowed to come into such close contact with the protesters,’’ former deputy commissioner of Metropolitan Police said.
Prime Minister David Cameron said lessons needed to be learned from the incident and those responsible for the violence must be `` arrested and punished in the correct way’’.
Metropolitan Chief Sir Paul Stephenson called the attack ``thoroughly disgraceful’’ but students blamed the tension and the resulting violence on police tactics.
"The violence we witnessed yesterday from the police, before anything had been done by the protesters, is typical of how the Met has responded to these demonstrations,’’ said a spokesman of the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts.