Police chief: students lucky not to be shot
Charles’s armed bodyguards showed ‘enormous restraint’ says angry London police commissioner
There was shock this morning after Britain's most senior police officer police chief suggested that armed royal protection officers had shown "enormous restraint" in not opening fire on unarmed students when they mobbed the car of Prince Charles and Camilla in London last night.
The Prince of Wales and his wife were on Regent Street, en route to the London Palladium, when their car was surrounded by protesters returning from a demonstration in Parliament Square against the raising of tuition fees.
Pictures of a shocked Camilla sitting inside the besieged Rolls Royce, which is armoured with toughened glass, have been broadcast around the world to amazed audiences. Shouts of "Off with their heads were heard", but the car emerged with just a cracked window and spatters of paint.
Though the royals were unharmed and were able to attend the Royal Variety Performance as planned, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said on BBC Radio 4 today: "I do think that the officers who were protecting their royal highnesses showed very real restraint. Some of those officers were armed.
"Their priority was to get that car to a point of safety and that was achieved. But it was a hugely shocking incident and there will be a full criminal investigation into it."
Asked if that meant the bodyguards could have opened fire on the protesters, Stephenson replied: "I think you and your listeners can draw their own conclusion."
Benches were set on fire, windows smashed and government buildings sprayed with graffiti during last night's protests. But the suggestion that the incident was only a heartbeat away from a bloody denouement, has not gone down well with activists.
Some have suggested on Twitter that if baton-wielding riot police had shown restraint earlier in the evening there might not have been so much violence and damage to property. ·
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