LONDON (Reuters) – When greater than 100,000 flag-waving, cheering royal followers collect for the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle subsequent month, British police will likely be treating each one as a possible terrorist, prankster or royal obsessive.
Barriers to cease automobile assaults, armed patrols, and airport-style safety will likely be among the many measures employed in what will likely be one of many largest police operations the picturesque city of Windsor has ever seen.
“It is a real challenge,” stated Bob Broadhurst, a former police officer who was “Gold Commander” accountable for policing the 2011 wedding ceremony of Harry’s elder brother William to spouse Kate.
“It is unimaginable to look tens of hundreds of individuals who need to come and line the streets, any one among which might be a possible terrorist; somebody who’s besotted with the royal household – and there are a selection of these; or simply an consideration seeker.
“It’s far more of a problem as a result of primarily all people in that crowd is a possible terrorist.”
Harry and Meghan will tie the knot on May 19 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth’s residence which dominates Windsor, about 20 miles (30 km) west of London.
“In the coming weeks and months residents, local businesses and visitors to the town can expect to see an increased police presence, with police officers, both armed and unarmed, search dogs, the mounted section, the roads policing unit and the National Police Air Service,” the police stated in a press release.
Visitors arriving by automobile and prepare on the day will face random searches and “any items that may pose a risk to the public will be removed,” they stated.
SECURITY TRUMPS CELEBRATION
The conundrum for police will likely be guaranteeing that safety doesn’t overshadow the event, stated Broadhurst, who was additionally accountable for policing the 2012 London Olympics and the marriage of Harry’s father, Prince Charles, to his second spouse Camilla in Windsor in 2005.
“Essentially you’re managing somebody’s wedding and you want it to be joyous and happy for the couple, for the family and for the visitors,” Broadhurst instructed Reuters.
“The trick for those planning the policing of this particular event will be to make the security as unobtrusive as possible so it doesn’t impinge on the celebration,” he stated.
“That is a really tricky thing to do – in this day and age, security must always trump celebration.”
Britain is on its second-highest risk degree – “severe” – that means an assault is taken into account extremely doubtless. Last 12 months there have been 5 incidents categorized as terrorism through which 36 individuals had been killed.
Three of these concerned a automobile being pushed at crowds, and in two the assailants then attacked passers-by with knives. The transfer in the direction of such easy ways poses a higher risk than up to now, Broadhurst stated.
“You don’t need to have spent hours or months building sophisticated bombs or other weaponry. You just need a kitchen knife, a gun up your jumper, or even just a hire car,” he stated.
“I very much doubt if the wedding itself will be targeted because of all the security implications, but there’s still the town centre, there’s still central London. What you don’t want is a celebratory event in Windsor and an attack of some sort in London.”
In 1981 the queen was shot at by a youngster in New Zealand and the identical 12 months six clean photographs had been fired at her through the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London.
Aside from terrorism, safety officers will likely be involved about protests – 18 had been held on the day of William’s wedding ceremony amid hostility to the government’s austerity measures, Broadhurst stated.
Windsor Castle, whose web site says it’s the oldest and largest inhabited fortress within the world, will present a safe location for the marriage and reception, however even its partitions have been breached.
In 2003, Aaron Barschak, who referred to as himself “the comedy terrorist”, managed to bypass fortress safety carrying a pink costume and an Osama bin Laden-style beard to crash William’s 21st party and provides him a kiss.
“It can just be a stunt that’s not going to harm anybody but it becomes headline news and it kind of then takes the gloss off the wedding itself,” Broadhurst stated.
“Those reputation issues are always there and what they do is they undermine the confidence of the people in the police and the security services to get things right.”
Police commanders will have envisaged all such eventualities through the six months of preparation, however even the best-laid plans may be severely examined.
On the day of William’s wedding ceremony, minutes earlier than Kate was as a result of set off, officers found a automobile had been deserted across the nook and regarded sending her a distinct route – which might have concerned lacking the crowds. In the tip they had been capable of verify in time that it was not a safety threat.
This time, essentially the most tense second for the police will likely be when the newlyweds experience in an open-top carriage by way of Windsor.
“That will be the bit where the Gold Commander will be holding his breath for a while because it is that point where they are most vulnerable,” stated Broadhurst.
Given that Britain usually levels giant public occasions with out severe issues, Broadhurst is assured the marriage will move off with out incident.
But he cautioned: “Even with the best of intelligence there is still a small risk, but it’s a risk that’s accepted by the royal family, it’s accepted by the police.”
Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Robin Pomeroy