Teen slaps Prince Charles in face with flower to protest Britain's war role
By J. Michael Lyons, Associated Press, 11/08/01
RIGA, Latvia -- A 16-year-old girl slapped Prince Charles' face with a red carnation Thursday as he stopped during a tour of downtown Riga to talk with a group of children.
"I'm against the Afghan war," the teen-ager said in Russian to reporters as police took her away.
The girl, who gave only her first name, Alina, was still in police custody late Thursday afternoon. Police spokeswoman Krists Leiskalns would not say whether she would be charged.
Prince Charles, who is on a five-day tour of the Baltics, had stopped to talk with schoolchildren waving British flags when the teen-ager leaned over from behind them and struck him across the face with a flower.
The heir to the British throne flinched and looked startled, but then continued on, chatting with some of the several hundred people who turned out to see him.
The girl calmly turned and walked away, saying, "Britain's the enemy of the world," as armed guards escorted her to a police van.
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have been strong supporters of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11 airborne terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga apologized Thursday. "There are mentally unstable and ill people who wish to stick out at such occasions in all countries," she said, according to the Baltic News Service.
Prince Charles arrived in Latvia from Lithuania on Thursday for the tour commemorating Britain's recognition of Baltic independence from Moscow a decade ago. He started the week in Estonia and leaves the region Friday.
Moments before the encounter with the young protester, Charles placed a wreath at Latvia's Freedom Monument.
The Baltic states, with combined populations of just over 7 million people, had close economic ties with Britain before World War II. British investment now lags far behind that of the nearby Nordic nations.