A student upset about the plight of Cambodian boat people charged a stage where Britain's Prince Charles was about to speak Wednesday night and fired two shots from a starter's pistol loaded with blanks before he was subdued.
Police said they apprehended David Kang, 23, an Australian-born university student of Korean ancestry. Kang, who was to appear in court today, faces a 20-year sentence.
Charles' 12-day visit to Australia turned into a security nightmare when Kang jumped onto the stage where the prince was taking part in ceremonies to mark Australia's national day.
Witnesses said Kang had been sitting on the grassy Tumbalong Park oval for about 20 minutes before he jumped up and rushed the stage.
Kang was tackled and quickly pinned down by politicians and security men.
"I thought it was a stunt for a minute, and then I thought no, this is serious," said Ian Kiernan, who helped tackle Kang. "I came round from the second row and just got a good headlock on him."
Police said Kang had written to Charles last month protesting the fact that Cambodian boat people are being held in detention camps in Australia. Charles' private secretary replied, saying the prince could not become involved in the issue.
Kiernan said Charles told him the attack was like being charged by an elephant in Kenya. "Prince Charles was fantastic. He was as cool as a cucumber," said Kiernan.
After the incident, Charles casually swept his hair back and continued the ceremony.
Police Minister Terry Griffiths said he believed that Buckingham Palace had requested no security between Charles and the Australian public during the visit, but he added that this request will now be ignored and security tightened.