March 28, 2011— -- Scotland Yard is bracing to fend off possible security threats to the royal wedding from groups that range from terrorists to anti-monarchists.
The announcement Monday came only days after a peaceful demonstration Saturday against government spending cuts was disrupted by violence. Police made more than 200 arrests as the march drew 250,000 people to London, the largest protest in Britain since the Iraq war.
A small group separated from the main protest, hurling ammonia-filled light bulbs, paint and wooden planks at officers and smashing windows near London's Trafalgar Square.
Police commander Bob Broadhurst said the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton carries even more of a security threat than the anti-austerity protests, and that means police officers will be able to tap into special stop-and-search powers that fall under Britain's counterterrorism laws.
"They won't get away with it," Broadhurst told BBC radio Monday. "The royal wedding has a different tenor to it. It's a security operation largely."
British security officials have said there is no specific terror threat to the wedding, but they are monitoring chatter over the Internet and other channels.
Several anarchists and protesters used Twitter and other social media sites over the weekend to promise more mayhem on the day of the wedding. Some anti-monarchists also said they plan to have a presence near the Abbey next month.
"You're looking at a different type of threat," Broadhurst said, calling the threat to the royal wedding, "a threat to democracy."
Britain's government has pledged to scrap a law that bans any unauthorized protest within about half a mile (0.8 kilometers) of the Houses of Parliament — which includes the royal wedding venue at Westminster Abbey — but it is likely to be several months before the rule is actually dropped.
Lawmakers are now debating a bill that proposes loosening oversight of protests and suggests curbing police powers to conduct random searches. Until the bill is passed, however, ministers will have the power to ban protests along much of the wedding route — or to limit the size, duration and noise levels of any planned demonstration.