London: British Prime Minister David Cameron late Thursday condemned as
"shocking and unacceptable" a day of violent student protests in
London during which a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife,
Camilla, was attacked.
The incident involving the royal limousine came as protesters
roamed through the West End of London, smashing shop windows and
setting rubbish bins alight on Oxford Street, the capital's main
The royal couple was being driven to a theatre performance when
their black Rolls Royce was struck by objects and daubed in white
paint. Windows were broken and the side doors were kicked in.
Photographs showed the couple looking out, open-mouthed in shock.
"We can confirm that their Royal Highnesses' car was attacked by
the protesters on the way to their engagement at the London
Palladium this evening. Both their Royal Highnesses were
unharmed," said a spokeswoman for Clarence House.
Charles and Camilla arrived safely at the theatre performance.
Later, emerging from the theatre, Camilla, the Duchess of
Cornwall, was overheard saying that she was "fine".
"There is a first time for everything," she said.
Cameron condemned the "shocking attack", adding that the attackers
should face the "full force of the law."
The fierce clashes came after parliament approved a drastic rise
in university tuition fees from 2012, an issue that has aroused
deep student anger.
After the vote, demonstrators rampaged through the government
centre of Whitehall, smashing red telephone booths and attacking
government buildings with rocks, iron bars and metal barriers.
Police said 12 officers were injured, at least two seriously, and
43 protesters were hurt and taken to hospital. There were at least
Paul Stephenson, the chief of London's Metropolitan police, said
it had been a "disappointing day" for London as the police had
tried to ensure that the protests would remain peaceful.
Protesters reported how they were attacked by police and hit in
the face with batons.
Riot police moved in as some protesters attempted to smash their
way into the Treasury building with iron bars.
"Cuts kill. Save the welfare state," said a slogan daubed on the
walls of the Treasury building.
BBC correspondents reporting on the scene were ordered by police
to wear protective helmets, as rocks from concrete road blocks and
other missiles were hurled by protesters.
A peaceful demonstrator, dressed up as Father Christmas, was led
away by police for his own protection. In Trafalgar Square, an
attempt was made to set fire to a huge Christmas tree, BBC said.
The increase in annual fees from 3,290 pounds ($5,200) to a
maximum of 9,000 pounds has become the first major parliamentary
test for the Conservative-Liberal coalition.
The loans will be repayable after students earn at least 21,000
The measures were passed by 323 against 302 votes, reducing the
government majority of 84 to just 21. They are due to come in in
A number of Liberal Members of Parliament, and some Conservatives,
abstained, or voted against the plan. Two Liberal parliamentarians
and one Conservative resigned government positions in protest at
the fee rise.
The government argues that the increase is needed to secure the
sustainable long-term funding for British universities at a time
of austerity and budget cuts.
But critics maintain that students from less well-off backgrounds
will be deterred from going to university in future.