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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 17:18 GMT
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Hundreds of protesters have charged down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace in a day of protests against US President George Bush.

Police moved swiftly to stop the activists - who had broken away from a rally in Trafalgar Square - before allowing them closer to the palace.

A short sit-down protest in the Mall was followed by a good-natured protest near a statue of Queen Victoria.

The crowd of up to 600 was held back from the palace by police.

The protesters carried placards and noisily demonstrated as they made their way towards the palace.

A similar number of police formed a cordon around the front of Buckingham Palace preventing protesters coming within 100 metres of its gates.

BUSH PROTESTS 1
View some of your photos from the Bush protests

Activists have remained good natured and focused on Mr Bush rather than Tony Blair or the Queen.

Some demonstrators were carrying effigies of the president, while others are dancing to loud music just outside the security cordon.

Earlier on Wednesday, a series of protests against the visit of Mr Bush began with a mock state procession.

Organisers of the Stop The War Coalition said it was not disappointed with the turnout of around 600.

Peace campaigners dressed as President Bush and the Queen headed the colourful procession.

Protesters at the palace
Up to 600 protesters were held back from the palace by a police barrier
At Buckingham Palace a man singing songs through a loudhailer during a welcoming ceremony for the president was threatened with arrest.

In the mock procession, protesters marched from the South Bank through to Trafalgar Square in a peaceful demonstration, characterised by humorous chants against President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Love tank

Among the demonstrators were a spoof Saddam Hussein, a mock Camp X-Ray prisoner and a pink "love tank".

The fake Saddam Hussein spent the march reaching into the "royal carriage" to shake the hand of the fake President Bush.

Police kept a low profile and were heavily outnumbered by journalists.

At the end of the protest at Trafalgar Square one man, Ross Monaghan, of Dover, was arrested by police.

As he was taken away he shouted to watching reporters that he had been arrested for allegedly bearing an offensive placard.

A small number of the protesters followed police officers taking him away, whistling loudly and booing.

At Buckingham Palace, where President Bush was treated to a welcoming ceremony by the Queen, some of the assembled crowd carried banners with anti-Bush slogans.

We don't have many opportunities to get this close to the president of the United States and actually tell him what we think so I was determined to take it
Joe Gittings
Others carried banners bearing messages of support for the American president.

All were kept more than 100 metres away from ceremonial activities.

Protest songs

One man, Joe Gittings, sang self-penned protest songs through a loudhailer while the Star Spangled Banner was played.

His lyrics included one that said: "If you think the war is for oil shout no war".

He stopped after a warning from police he would be arrested if he carried on.

Mr Gittings told journalists: "I'm hoping to breach the bubble that Mr Bush says he travels in when he's abroad.

"I want to make him realise what ordinary UK citizens actually think of him and that he's not welcome in this country."

He added: "We don't have many opportunities to get this close to the president of the United States and actually tell him what we think so I was determined to take it."

Police said 25 people were arrested during Wednesday's protests for offences including criminal damage, theft, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of drugs.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the demonstrations had been relatively trouble-free.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Ben Brown
"Police have been wrestling with protestors right outside Buckingham Palace"



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