LONDON – British officials defended the country's security establishment Friday after rampaging student protesters attacked a car carrying the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
The chief of the Metropolitan Police pledged to launch a full and detailed investigation into the incident, which saw protesters set upon the heir to the throne's Rolls Royce as it drove through London's busy West End Thursday night. A group of up to 20 protesters, some chanting "off with their heads!" smashed a rear window and splashed white paint on the vehicle. Charles and Camilla were visibly shaken, but unharmed.
The security breach is particularly embarrassing for police and the Royal household in the run-up to Prince William's 2011 wedding, raising questions over whether or not security protocols need to be reviewed.
Prime Minister David Cameron said police must learn from the lapse in security but not be blamed for it, insisting that protesters should feel "the full force of the law."
"Let's be very clear about where responsibility lies," Cameron, speaking in Downing Street. "Responsibility for smashing property, or violence, lies with the people who perpetrate that violence and I want to see them arrested and punished in the correct way."
The premier also shrugged off claims that violence was limited to a small minority of protesters, saying "there were quite a number of people who clearly were there wanting to pursue violence and destroy property."
Metropolitan Police Chief Paul Stephenson commended officers for their bravery and said the nearly 3,000-strong contingent of officers out to deal with Thursday's protests showed commendable restraint in dealing with the "dreadful" actions of "thugs."
Buckingham Palace said it does not comment on security procedures.