Charles and Camilla to be protected by Taser guns
Police embarrassment over tuition fee protest attack leads to stun gun option
Next time you feel the urge to poke Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, with a stick, think twice. While the good news is you are unlikely to be shot with a lethal weapon, you now run the risk of being Tasered instead.
Royal protection officers were left embarrassed last year when demonstrators opposed to university tuition fees attacked the car carrying her and Prince Charles to the Royal Vareity Show. A window was broken, Camilla was poked with a stick and protestors chanted: "Off with their heads!"
Police were powerless to act: while the team protecting the royal family do carry firearms, a code means their use must be "strictly proportionate" and only to protect the family from "violence which poses a real and immediate risk to life".
Non-lethal Taser stun guns, on the other hand, can be deployed rather more liberally. With an effective range of 21 feet, the devices deliver a powerful and immobilising electric shock of 50,000 volts to a target.
And the decision has now been taken to issue the electric devices to members of the Diplomatic Protection Squad, the group charged with safeguarding the royals and other bigwigs.
One former royal protection officer, Ken Wharfe, told the Sunday Telegraph that he thought the idea was ill-advised, saying he feared it would just confuse officers faced with split-second decisions on which weapon to draw.
The news will be of particular interest to Brian Haw, the 62-year-old peace campaigner who has spent most of the last decade protesting on the pavement in Parliament Square: it was announced last week that the powers-that-be are not keen on the idea of his placard-waving presence blighting April's royal wedding.
Haw would be wise to keep a low profile.
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