Prince Charles and Camilla hail return of Notting Hill Carnival after three-year hiatus

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 (AP)
(AP)

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have hailed the return of Notting Hill Carnival next month after a three-year hiatus.

The carnival, which is Europe’s biggest street party, has not taken place in its usual form since 2019 but is set to return to the streets of west London in August with crowds of more than one million expected.

Prince Charles and Camilla celebrated the return of the much-loved outdoor celebration by visiting a cultural centre on Wednesday, where they got into the party spirit by playing steel plans and listening to booming sound systems.

During the visit to performing arts venue the Tabernacle in Notting Hill, Prince Charles entertained onlookers by playing a steel pan, while joking: “I’m not much cop at this”.

The royal couple made the visit to celebrate the return next month of the carnival, which was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Joining Charles was his wife Camilla, patron of the Fan Museum. At one point she told a group of steel pan players: “If it had been cooler we could have had a jolly good dance.”

London saw highs of 29C recorded at St. James’s Park on Wednesday, according to the Met Office.

The couple were treated to a flavour of the famous street party when they were welcomed to the Tabernacle by stilt walkers, performers in extravagant outfits and musicians playing the famous steel pan.

Sisters Natalie, 44, and Claire Johnson, 40, who wore red costumes with colourful headdresses, welcomed the couple.

Speaking afterwards about the attraction of performing at the carnival, Claire said: “For me it’s the heritage, I’m just so proud of it and the culture, the representation, the way that we can just be – and be proud – and the party vibe and the community spirit.”

On display outside were sculptures made from wire frames and chicken wire by artist Carl Gabriel, including his 8ft tall head and shoulders creation of the Queen wearing a crown, which was part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

Hundreds of performers from the Notting Hill Carnival community including Calypso singers, and a huge steel pan orchestra, took part in the celebrations outside Buckingham Palace.

Mr Gabriel said: “I talked to the prince about my sculpture of the Queen because he saw it at the Platinum parade and he was very excited about it – he loved it.”

The first Notting Hill Carnival took place in 1966 and today is Europe’s biggest street event.

Matthew Phillip, chief executive of the Carnival Village Trust, who hosted the royal visit, said: “It’s the biggest celebration of black culture on the planet and something we should all be proud of.

“It mainly celebrates black culture but it’s welcoming to all cultures and people from all backgrounds, all religions, race, gender, sexual orientation – it’s a real coming together.”

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