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(Updated) Violent U.K. Protesters Attack Car Carrying Prince Charles

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In Britain's worst political violence in years, furious student protesters rained sticks and rocks on riot police, vandalized government buildings and attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, after lawmakers approved a controversial hike in university tuition fees.

Demonstrators set upon the heir to the throne's limousine as it drove through London's West End shopping and entertainment hub. Protesters who had been running amok and smashing shop windows kicked and threw paint at the car, which sped off.

An Associated Press photographer saw demonstrators kick the car in Regent Street, in the heart of London's shopping district. Charles' office, Clarence House, confirmed the attack but said "their royal highnesses are unharmed."

Police said it was unclear whether the royals had been deliberately targeted, or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The couple arrived looking composed at the London Palladium theater, where they were attending a Royal Variety Performance. Their Rolls Royce limousine was left with a badly cracked rear window and was spattered with paint.

As thousands of students were corralled by police near Parliament, some strummed guitars and sang Beatles songs - but others hurled chunks of paving stones at police and smashed windows in a government building.

Another group ran riot through the busy shopping streets of London's West End, smashing store windows and setting fire to a giant Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.

Police condemned the "wanton vandalism." They said 38 protesters and 10 officers had been injured, while 15 people were arrested.

Below, police attend to an injured colleague:

Earlier, students broke through metal barriers at Parliament Square:

And the London Telegraph also reports that one mounted police officer was ripped off his horse by an angry mob:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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