LONDON - A British-Filipina teenager joined the largest and most violent protest against tuition increase in the United Kingdom.
What she did not expect by doing so was to be a witness to the attack by rioters on Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
For the second time in weeks, students rampaged in Parliament Square to protest against the massive rise in tuition proposed by the Coalition government.
The Tories and the Liberal Democrats proposed that the cap on tuition be removed and allowed to rise massively from over £3,000 to up to £9,000 a year.
British students, normally placid, reacted strongly to the proposed rise through demonstrations.
“I was at the protest. I mean I was with a group of people and they just decided to walk through Leicester Square, Piccadilly and then come down here. I mean, we got to say something about it, and this is the only way they will understand what we’re trying to say to them. I want to go to university and I don’t want to have to pay £9,000. So, I joined the protest and come down here,” said Jenalyn Masilungan.
As the bulk of the protesters battled police in Parliament Square, causing damage and mayhem, a splinter group was able to evade the police tactic of kettling and flowed upwards to Regent Street, a famous shopping thoroughfare.
In the middle of a riot
At that point, Prince Charles and Camilla were travelling up the same street in their 1977 Phantom VI Rolls Royce in order to attend the Royal Variety Performance at the Palladium Theatre, and they found themselves caught in the middle of a riot.
A huge mob surrounded the royal limousine, rocking and kicking it and chanting “off with their heads."
Through an open window, the Duchess of Wales was also poked in the ribs by a stick, and the window by Prince Charles’ side was smashed.
“All of a sudden, we see police escort cars coming, escort bikes coming down the road trying to clear the road. Unfortunately, not enough police security on the actual car so the rioters in the protest just started to attack the car, some knowing that was Prince Charles, some, not knowing, just hit the car. I was actually excited just to see Prince Charles because as you know, he’s part of the royal family. You don’t get to see them every day, but I did feel sorry for him because he was being attacked and nothing was his fault. The driver should not have driven down that road knowing that there were many kids down there and he’s got nothing to do with the government,” Masilungan said.
“I was running with fellow students. There was about 1,000 students running down the road with the Royal Couple,” said Harry Morris.
The Royal Couple escaped injury, but a major inquiry has started to find out why there was such a lack of royal security at a time of confusion, why the royal entourage was allowed to go along such a dangerous route, and why there was no anticipation of risk.
It is expected that the royal security fiasco will result in resignation either in the police force or in government.
“We were protesting against tuition fees. We’re not protesting against Prince Charles because he’s done nothing wrong to us. He has no say in what the government does. And I think it shouldn’t have got so out of hand with Prince Charles. That was the big story. No one cared about the protest, everyone cared about the attack on Prince Charles,” added Masilungan.
Even though the UK Parliament voted in the same night to support the increase in tuition, Masilungan and her fellow students vowed to continue to join future protests until their views are heard by lawmakers.