LONDON — British police arrested 55 people in London Friday for mostly minor offenses as the force conducted one of the biggest security operations ever seen in the capital for a royal wedding.
About 5,000 officers were on duty to control the huge flag-waving crowds, along with about 1,000 soldiers lining the route from Westminster Abbey to Queen Elizabeth’s London residence, Buckingham Palace.
Specialist teams with sniffer dogs had patrolled the procession route searching for explosives, while helicopters buzzed overhead as part of the operation to protect Prince William and his new wife, Kate Middleton.
Police arrested 10 people at Charing Cross railway station after they were carrying anti-royalist placards.
One million people lined the route between the church and Buckingham Palace and 500,000 watched the couple appear on the palace balcony after the service, police estimated.
Police said they were aware of about 10 protesters in Soho Square, central London, and they were monitoring them.
A handful of protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square, where crowds watched the event on a giant screen, and displayed a banner complaining about government cuts to public services and Britain’s military role overseas.
Earlier, three people — two men aged 45 and 68 and a woman of 60 — were detained in southeast London on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and breach of the peace. They were suspected of planning to behead royal effigies.
A fourth person, described by police as “a well-known anarchist,” was arrested in Cambridge, northeast of London.
“A number of individuals were arrested who we felt were intent on causing disruption, committing acts of criminality or likely to cause alarm, harassment, or distress to the vast majority of people who wanted to come and celebrate this joyous occasion,” Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens said.
A lawyer representing some of those held said police had abused their power by using security concerns as a pretext to block protests that could embarrass the royal family.