'Off With Their Heads!' Mob's Royal Attack of Opportunity

VIDEO: Prince Charles and Wife Camilla Attacked in London
Share
Copy

It was pure chance that led an angry street mob in London to viciously attack a car carrying Prince Charles of Wales and his wife, a photographer in the midst of the mob said today.

"This was a breakaway group trying to get into the main protest in Parliament Square," Associated Press photographer Matt Dunham told "Good Morning America." "They couldn't get in because the police weren't letting them ... and they then basically went on a rampage through central London."

Dunham, who captured a memorable picture of Camilla in visible panic inside the car that is on the front page of newspapers around the world, said he had no idea the royal couple was in the area Thursday, "nor did the protestors."

When they did spot the royal car, however, the students -- who have been protesting school tuition hikes for weeks -- surged around it, hitting and kicking the car while at least one person yelled "Off with their heads!" The rowdy mob smashed windows in the Rolls Royce and splattered it with paintballs.

"I was filming, she [Camilla] was really terrified and Prince Charles was also terrified so he pulled her into protection and Camilla sat down on the floor," one witness, Adnan Nazir, said. "It was quite a chaotic scene, from people trying to damage the vehicle to photographers trying to take pictures. I'm not sure what was going on. It was surreal. ... You never expected the presence of the royal couple."

Click here for images of the London protests.

Both the royals, who were on their way to a charity concert, were unharmed in the attack. Leaving the concert later. Camilla did her best to laugh off the incident saying, "There's a first time for everything."

But the question on the minds of Britons this morning is how the incident could have happened at all, former press secretary for the Queen, Dicky Arbiter told "GMA."

Clarence House responded to the failure of the security team around the royal couple, saying the royals understand "the difficulties the police face and are always very grateful to the police for the job they do in often very challenging circumstances."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the "full force of the law will be used on the mob."

Photos Show Dangerous Clashes in London

The incident was an example of how heated the protests over tuition hikes have gotten. Protestors Thursday smashed windows, threw flares and tussled with police. The Daily Mail called the protestors "anarchists."

The British newspaper reported that tens of thousands of people were protesting the government's decision to triple the cap on student tuition from $5,000 to more than about $14,000.

Though one protestor told the Daily Mail the demonstration was originally "like a carnival," the mood turned ugly and the streets became dangerous for police and protestors.

"Why am I so angry? Because they are trying to divide society and force working class kids out of good jobs, out of an education," one protester, a student with is face covered by a scarf, told ABC News. "They are trying to steal an education away from the working class and keep it for themselves."

Police told The Associated Press Thursday that there had been seven arrests; 13 protesters and eight officers had been injured.

Pictures of London today showed police officers being yanked off their horses by protestors and emergency workers tending to both injured officers and civilians.

One woman was even photographed swinging from a Union flag.

Much of the protestors' anger was directed at Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose Liberal Democratic Party has helped Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron form a government by joining a coalition. Clegg signed a pre-election promise to avoid such hikes.

"I'm here because the Liberal Democrats broke their promise," said 19-year-old college student Shivan David from London's Trafalgar Square Thursday. "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."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...