BRITISH CITIZENS TO BRITISH MONARCHY, ” WE ARE NOT YOUR SLAVES
A rioter managed to push a stick into the royal limousine and jab her in the ribs. Camilla’s terrifying ordeal came as a baying mob surrounded her and husband Prince Charles when they rode through central London in the vintageRolls-Royce last night.
A police source said one of the car’s rear windows was opened in error as tuition fee protesters moved in.
The attack is the biggest royal security breach in decades and raises new questions about protection of the couple. Charlie Gilmour, the son of Pink Floyd guitarist David, was with protesters in Regent Street when the car was hit.
The Standard can now reveal the security breach was even more serious than first believed, with thugs managing to reach deep into the car’s
Armed officers were seconds from drawing their guns but the police driver managed to accelerate away from trouble.
Police sources have revealed that the Duchess was “very scared” when the yob leaned into the car. He said: “She is laughing about it now but everyone was rather shaken.”
A Clarence House spokesman said today: “Their Royal Highnesses understand the difficulties police face and are always grateful to them for the job they do in challenging circumstances.”
The Rolls-Royce was surrounded as it drove down Regent Street to a Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, with protesters kicking at the doors and shattering a rear window. At one point it was rocked and hit with paint bombs.
Gordon Spurs, 26, who works in a clothes shop near where the attack happened, told the Standard: “The Rolls-Royce took a real pasting. It was pretty terrifying to watch.
“The crowd were baying for blood. At one point 40 or 50 protesters were chasing the car towards Argyll Street. It was completely out of control.
“Bottles and bins were being thrown. People were also ripping up barriers from the building sites along the street. If one of them had hit the royal car it could have been far worse.”
The police source said that at first the students did not appear to be aggressive. He said: “They were very friendly but then things turned nasty when the hard core stepped in.”
Camilla stoically laughed off her ordeal, telling a wellwisher after the show: “I’m fine thanks — first time for everything.” The couple were driven back to Clarence House in a police van.
Mayor Boris Johnson said the Met “did a very good job on the whole” but added: “Clearly there are questions.”
He went on: “I would like to commend the Prince and the Duchess for continuing with their engagement in spite of the provocations. I thought they showed great fortitude and spirit.”
Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson praised armed protection officers for their restraint in reacting to the attack. He was forced to defend the route taken by the royal couple as MPs vowed to grill Home Secretary Theresa May over the dangers they faced.
Today Sir Paul revealed there was reconnaissance on the route “minutes” before the car set off from Clarence House and blamed “the unpredictability of thugs” for causing the royal convoy to separate as it became stuck in traffic at around 7.15pm. This allowed rioters — who were thought to have been moving to target the Topshop store in Oxford Circus — to attack.
The breach prompted the Commons home affairs committee to announce that the Home Secretary will be asked next Tuesday to explain whether there was “a breakdown in communications” between riot and protection officers.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: “Was it wise to take a car that was so distinctive through the middle of London during the aftermath of the biggest demonstration seen for years?”
Sir Paul faces the most serious crisis since taking control of the Met two years ago. His predecessor Lord Stevensconsidered resigning in 2003 when “comedy terrorist” Aaron Barschak bluffed his way into Prince William‘s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle.
The Met is likely to face an inquiry conducted by another force into how the royal couple ended up in such a vulnerable situation. David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, told The Daily Telegraph: “Sir Paul has very serious questions to answer about this operation. Why were professional anarchists and violent agitators allowed to come anywhere near the car?”
Brian Paddick, a former Met deputy assistant commissioner, said: “I don’t think Charles and Camilla should have found themselves in that situation.” Former Scotland Yard Commander John O’Connor said: “I really do think the police have put Prince Charles and his wife in considerable danger.”
Sir Paul promised a “full criminal investigation”. Members of the Met Police’s special escort group were understood to have been summoned to a briefing today.
But the commissioner said a balance needed to be struck between ensuring that the royal family were protected and maintaining their wish to be seen in public. In the attack on Topshop in Oxford Street, masked rioters tried to smash windows and sprayed the words “Pay your tax” on the building in front of terrified shoppers and staff.
Part of Oxford Street was cordoned off while the rioters were dispersed and the Oxford Circus Tube station was closed because of public safety fears.
More than 20,000 students marched through London but the protests descended into vandalism and violence as rioters attacked police in Parliament Square.Benches were set alight, Winston Churchill‘s statue was vandalised and windows were smashed at the Treasury and the Supreme Court.
Police tried responded with baton strikes and horseback charges.