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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ballet for the Queen, Trouble Outside

Queen Elizabeth II settled into her gilded box for a performance at the Bolshoi Theater on Monday night with all the stateliness one might expect from royalty attending the opera.


But for the plebian masses outside, the dignity and decorum of the evening were shattered as police bundled unruly demonstrators into a bus, blocked off the approach to the theater and chased down would-be opera-goers who tried to bolt for the entrance.


Six demonstrators were arrested after approaching the theater with banners apparently meant to criticize the queen for Britain's support of President Boris Yeltsin, who bombarded the opposition-held Russian parliament building with tanks last year.


"The White House: Payment for the Ipatevsky palace," read one banner, referring to the house in Yekaterinburg where communists executed the Russian royal family, relatives of the queen, in 1918. The banner was ripped apart as police dragged demonstrators away.


Police spokesman Igor Tsyrulnikov said the six protesters would be charged with holding an illegal demonstration.


Television pictures of the British monarch and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh beaming from the resplendent presidential box contrasted sharply with the scene outside the pastel pink building on Teatralynaya Ploshchad, where police blocked off the square with metal barriers to keep back crowds of queen-watchers.


One young woman dressed in leggings and sturdy shoes made a break for it, jumping over a barrier and dashing through the bushes of the small park outside the theater.


A camouflage-clad guard gave chase, but tripped and fell.


His pistol clattered across the pavement, and as he scrambled to retrieve it, the woman slipped past into the theater where the queen and a select crowd were watching "Giselle" inside.


Other opera fans, hobbled by high heels and tuxedos, were not so lucky. One woman, who said a friend was holding her ticket inside, burst into tears.


Tsyrulnikov said Moscow police had been given special orders to "strengthen measures for the facilitation of public order" during the week of the queen's visit.


Prostitutes and drunks were conspicuously absent from the Bolshoi area and neighboring Tverskaya Ulitsa Monday night.


Tsyrulnikov said he could not say whether undesirables had been rounded up.


But, he said, "if the queen came to the Bolshoi Theater, then naturally around the Bolshoi there would not be a very large quantity of tramps, prostitutes and people like that."