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For Britain's Prince Charles and Prince William, the 'royal treatment' diverges

The recent attack on Prince Charles's car and the excitement surrounding Prince William's wedding underscore the complicated relationship between Britons and the royal family.

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, react as their car is attacked by angry protesters in London, Thursday, Dec. 9.

Matt Dunham/AP

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Two recent, but starkly different, series of photos reflect the complicated relationship between Britons and their royal family. In one, the Duchess of Cornwall sits open-mouthed in terror as protesters surrounding a car carrying her and her husband, Prince Charles, chant: "Off with their heads!"

In the other photo, released Sunday, Charles’s son William lovingly wraps his arms around his fiancée, Kate Middleton, as they gaze into a camera wielded by celebrity photographer Mario Testino for the first official pictures marking their engagement.

QUIZ: Kate Middleton and Prince William: How well do you know them?

Both images seem destined to become iconic snapshots of a troubled nation in 2010.

As the heir to the throne found out when his car was set upon on Dec. 9 by participants taking part in volatile protests against cutbacks in education spending and a rise in tuition fees, the royals are not immune to the public backlash as Britain edges deeper into an age of austerity.

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