Relief as royal wedding passes without security scare

30th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

British police on Saturday said their handling of the royal wedding had been an "amazing success" as their biggest security operation in a generation passed off without a much-feared hitch.

Scotland Yard said their performance should convince people that they can safely handle the 2012 London Olympics and Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee next year.

Around 5,000 officers were on the streets of London to police a million-strong crowd that came out to cheer on Prince William and his new bride Kate as they tied the knot.

Police made 55 arrests, including 25 for breach of the peace, five for drunk and disorderly behaviour, and eight for carrying weapons of various sorts.

Ten of the suspects were arrested carrying climbing equipment and anti-monarchy placards.

Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens said it had been a "happy and safe" event.

She admitted there had been "nerves" beforehand but said the decision to launch pre-event raids had been "entirely justified".

Threats to the wedding could have come from Islamic extremists, Irish republican paramilitaries or anarchists who have hijacked recent London protests against austerity measures.

However, the crowds were well-behaved and did not try to break through police lines as they slowly shepherded them towards Buckingham Palace to see the couple kiss on the balcony.

Police officers had lined the route carrying the royal couple to and from Westminster Abbey, with cheering crowds kept at a distance behind two sets of barriers.

A large police presence could also be seen on rooftops near the wedding route, with snipers and spotters scanning the streets below.

"We made it clear from the outset that we would be robust, decisive and proportionate in policing this event," Owens said.

"When we undertook any action, it was on the basis of intelligence.

"A number of individuals were arrested who we felt were intent on causing disruption, committing acts of criminality or likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress to the vast majority of people who wanted to come and celebrate this joyous occasion."

The operation's success "should convince people that the Met is well able to handle next year's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games," she added.

Meanwhile in Glasgow, an impromptu street party that was organised on the Internet ended in trouble, with 21 arrests made.

"The level of drunkenness was completely unacceptable and frankly irresponsible," said Strathclyde Police Chief Superintendent Bernard Higgins.

© 2011 AFP

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