British students protesting a parliamentary vote to triple university tuition fees attacked a car carrying the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Thursday as it drove through the heart of London's shopping district.
The angry mob broke one of the car's windows and threw paint on the vehicle before it sped off.
"Charles got her on the floor and put his hands on her," recalled Adnan Nazir, a 23-year-old podiatrist who was following the protesters. "Charles was still waving and giving the thumb's up."
"It was just a surreal thing," he said. "It was completely manic."
Authorities said Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, though visibly shaken, were not harmed.
Thursday's royal assault has raised questions as to whether security protocols need to be revamped.
Although Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged the incident represented a lapse in security, he insisted it was the rioters who 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."
Thursday's attack on the heir to the British throne and his wife came as students took to the streets to voice their displeasure over tuition hikes meant to offset the U.K.'s massive budget deficit.
While most of the demonstrations were peaceful, a smaller group turned violent. They hurled rocks at riot police, smashed store windows and set on fire a giant Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.
Meanwhile, defenders of the tuition plan say students will not have to pay back the fees until they earn at least 32,000 a year.