Nightly News | December 09, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: and his wife, Camilla , were attacked by protesters in their car en route to a show in London's west end . They were traveling in a lavish and highly visible Rolls Royce limousine, and the protesters apparently knew they were coming. The car was dented, hit with a paintball gun, a window was broken. Tonight's attack was part of something much larger, massive cutbacks in Great Britain that could triple college tuition and cut way back on social services. And something even larger still, a growing wave of economic downturn across Europe , including here, and the discontent that can often bring. We begin tonight with our own Stephanie Gosk in our London bureau . Stephanie , good evening.
STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: Good evening, Brian . Today the future king of England was subjected firsthand to the backlash over budget cuts. Student demonstrators pelted Prince Charles 's bullet-proof Rolls Royce with paintballs and smashed a window while he and his wife, Camilla , made their way to an event in central London . This cell phone video captures the moment of the attack. The Duchess of Cornwall was visibly rattled. An eyewitness spoke to NBC News by phone.
Mr. LLOYD PURSALL (Eyewitness): Camilla looks a lot more startled. She's -- she looked quite shocked and quite scared really. And it just kind of -- you do question why they didn't have enough security protecting them and why the car wasn't safe enough that -- to withstand the people breaking the glass.
GOSK: The couple was unharmed, but the message was clear: British students are angry. The attack occurred in a busy commercial section of London just over a mile from the main demo outside parliament. Students gathered there all day while the government debated nearly tripling university fees, part of sweeping and drastic new budget cuts. While the politicians deliberated, students and police clashed. The skirmishes led to injuries on both sides. The proposed fees passed by a narrow margin, but they passed, and that triggered even more violence. At one point protesters used metal barriers, supposed to contain them, as weapons. Once word spread that the vote had passed, a lot of the hopefulness that these students had that they could do something about it has been replaced with anger. We're now seeing more protesters throwing rocks at windows and attacking the police. The teenagers we met say a university education is now impossible.
Unidentified Man #1: It's the banks that caused this, yeah.
Unidentified Man #2: Yeah.
Man #1: And we're having to pay.
GOSK: The new government , led by Prime Minister David Cameron , says they have no alternative. The budget deficit is just too high. It's the same pain being felt across Europe. Financial crisis has left economies sputtering and deficits surging, from Greece to Ireland . Austerity packages are triggering protests across the content. Today in London the police prepared for violence, but it was impossible to protect everyone. Prince Charles ' security detail was overwhelmed by protesters. In a "Dateline" interview this past August, the Prince of Wales did not seem overly concerned about his safety.
WILLIAMS: And you don't have terrible security compared to our president, at least you can walk around.
Prince CHARLES: No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no. But it's a different thing, really.
Prince CHARLES: I think for the president, it must be a nightmare, I'd of thought, with the amount of security.
GOSK: Tonight, Prince Charles might have welcomed some extra protection. The current government could be hoping for some themselves in the next election.
Brian: A wild day in London today . Stephanie Gosk covering it all. Stephanie , thanks for your