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Britain Preparing Security for Royal Wedding

As part of security preparations for the upcoming royal wedding, a British police officer uses a micro-camera to inspect the inner tubes of a scaffolding reserved for media, outside Westminster Abbey, background, in central London, Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The eyes of the world are on Britain as it gears up for the royal wedding on Friday and it is not just well wishers who are showing an interest. Those who oppose the British government or its monarchy may see the royal wedding as an ideal target.


Not everyone in Britain is a fan of the monarchy. Take anarchist Charlie Veitch for example. He brought a megaphone to London’s Trafalgar Square and told the public what he thinks about the upcoming royal wedding.

“What I have an issue with is when the state creates the biggest public spectacle the world has ever seen and charges us, the tax payer, millions and millions of pounds to pay for the security, when so many people in this country are against it,” Veitch said.

He told VOA, Britain’s monarchy is a system of domination.

“When I open my passport it does not say British ‘citizen’ it says British ‘subject’ because I am still subject to the crown and to the Queen, and I reject that 100 percent,” Veitch said.

His anarchist group, the Love Police, plan to demonstrate Friday in Trafalgar Square, the same day Prince William and Kate Middleton are to wed.

Veitch says the Love Police will be using words to bring down the monarchy.

“We want to show them that we can actually defeat this monstrous system of consensus and obedience and subservience and being blown away by the spectacle of the royal wedding, by using words,” Veitch explained.

But words are not everyone’s mode of action.

Security threats

International Center for the Study of Radicalization co-director John Bew says Britain’s security services will be dealing with two main categories of threat on the day of the wedding.

"On the one hand you have fear of civil disorder or protest on the day,” Bew noted. "On the other hand you have a fear of a more serious actual terrorist threat or attempted terrorist attack on the wedding itself."

Late last year, demonstrations against a hike in student fees turned aggressive. Buildings were smashed and Britain’s heir to the throne, Prince Charles, was caught up in the uproar.

Protesters threw paint at his car, the same Rolls Royce that will be bringing Kate Middleton to her wedding on Friday.

Terror target

Terrorists have also long targeted Britain. Hundreds of people were killed or injured when London’s transport system was bombed in 2005. And the dissident group the Real IRA has waged an ongoing battle to end British control of Northern Ireland.

Analyst Bew says the risks are high.

"For a terrorist organization such as al-Qaida or the Real IRA, the royal wedding obviously is a very attractive target,” Bew said. "It is a symbol of Britain or British power - particularly in the case of the Real IRA, regarding the crown or the monarchy as really the symbol of 800 years of historic oppression."

He says the royal wedding is also an ideal target because the eyes of the world will be on Britain. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to pack London’s streets and top dignitaries from around the world are set to attend.

Metropolitan police officers carry out security checks on drains and lamp posts along the Mall ahead of the Royal wedding in London, April 26, 2011
Metropolitan police officers carry out security checks on drains and lamp posts along the Mall ahead of the Royal wedding in London, April 26, 2011

But Bew says Britain’s security services are well trained in how to keep major events like the Royal Wedding secure.

"The British security services have a lot of experience when dealing with this type of threat,” Bew said. "Members of the royal family have been attacked and killed by the IRA in previous years, such as Lord Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin who was killed in 1979, so there is experience of this. There is a standard protocol. There are operations in place. It should not be anything too out of the ordinary."

Security sweep

Police have already begun combing the processional route for weapons and explosives. Sniffer dogs will be searching the pews of Westminster Abbey, where the church service is to be held, while police helicopters will be monitoring the day’s events and about 5,000 police officers will patrol on the ground.

And with a tight security operation in place, it may be Charlie Veitch’s battle of words that causes the most disruption to Friday’s ceremony.