1. Home
  2. World
  3. British Royals Face Public Anger, Mob

British Royals Face Public Anger, Mob Attacks Charles And Camilla's Car

With terror written across her face, the Duchess of Cornwall watched as a snarling mob of student fees rioters kicked her car on Thursday night.In the worst royal security breach for a generation, the car
PTI December 10, 2010 8:47 IST
With terror written across her face, the Duchess of Cornwall watched as a snarling mob of student fees rioters kicked her car on Thursday night.

In the worst royal security breach for a generation, the car carrying her and Prince Charles was kicked, rocked and hit with paint bombs, reports Daily Mail, London.

A ‘steaming gang' of masked protesters ambushed them as they were being driven to the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, raising echoes of the 1974 kidnap attempt on Princess Anne.

The Prince and the Duchess were not hurt, but the potential risk to their safety will raise new questions about police readiness following the fiasco last month which saw fees protesters smash up Tory Party headquarters.

Metropolitan police chief Sir Paul Stephenson voiced his fury last night. ‘Right-minded people, including peaceful protesters who wanted to make their point, will condemn what we saw today,' he said.

David Cameron said the attack on the royal car was ‘shocking and regrettable'.

Observers said as few as half of the crowd were students, with a rent-a-mob of anarchists and other thugs taking control.

The clashes left 12 police officers and 43 protesters injured.

In the Commons, the Coalition was plunged into crisis as MPs voted to approve a rise in the university tuition fees cap from £3,290 a year to £9,000.

Three ministerial aides – two Lib Dems and one Tory – resigned as the Government's majority of 83 was slashed to just 21, a quarter of its normal size.

In a blow to Nick Clegg's authority, 21 Liberal Democrats including former leaders Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy voted against the Government.

Another eight Lib Dems abstained rather than back the plans, meaning the Deputy Prime Minister failed to get even half his 57 MPs to vote with the Government.

David Cameron's authority was also undermined as eight Tories defied personal pleas to get in line.

Senior Government officials saw the rebellion either side of the walls of the Palace of Westminster as a grim portent of further protests to come at the Coalition's cuts.

One senior figure said the Government will have to accept that up to 20 Liberal Democrats are now ‘virtually part of the opposition' and will begin to align themselves with Labour rather than the weakened Mr Clegg.

Mr Clegg, who promised not to raise fees during the General Election campaign, denied he should feel ashamed for voting in favour of the policy.

‘I would feel ashamed if I didn't deal with the way that the world is, not simply dream of the way the world I would like it to be,' the Deputy Prime Minister said.

But Liberal Democrat MPs openly defied their leader. Greg Mulholland, who voted against the fees rise, accused him of ‘failing to listen'.

Tory backbenchers formed an unlikely alliance with Labour MPs to fire awkward questions at Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable as he presented the plans to the Commons.

Flanked by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and David Cameron, Mr Cable was met with jeers as he argued that the new system of fees, repaid once graduates start earning £21,000, was ‘more progressive and more related to the ability to pay of graduates'.

Cable's voice wavered as he tried to set out the principle behind the policy – that students would no longer have to pay upfront tuition fees.

Senior Tory Right-winger Edward Leigh warned that Middle Britain would be hit the hardest by the changes.

He said: ‘Many of the people we represent, who are on moderate incomes, who are in work, also need help as well and mustn't be disadvantaged. Middle income, Middle Britain, cannot go on paying for this.'

Tory MP Julian Lewis, who voted No, said students from poor families would be put off by the high fees. ‘I can hear people talking percentages until they are blue in the face, or yellow in the face.

'But they will not convince me that young people from poor backgrounds will not be deterred.'

During the heated five-hour debate, shadow business secretary John Denham said: ‘Most graduates will be asked not to pay something towards their university education, but to pay the entire cost of their university education.'

Former Labour Education Secretary David Blunkett attacked the Government's cuts to maintenance grants, saying: ‘I know more about social mobility than most because my whole life has been an example of social mobility, from the time when I was on day release and evening classes, to the opportunity to get to university as a mature student. [Nick Clegg] knows nothing about social mobility, nothing.'

Last night the Prime Minister condemned the violence and said: ‘In our democracy people are fully entitled to protest peacefully and make their views known.

‘But the violence in London today is totally unacceptable. It is clear that a minority of protestors came determined to provoke violence, attack the police and cause as much damage to property as possible.

'They must face the full force of the law.

‘The police have confronted considerable danger… they have responded with courage and professionalism, and deserve the gratitude of the public.'