Prince Charles tries the steel drums at Notting Hill Carnival preview - as event announces comeback after three years

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Prince Charles played the steel drums during a launch event for the Notting Hill Carnival - which returns in August for the first time in three years.

"I'm not much cop at this," the Prince of Wales joked as he celebrated the comeback of the major west London event after it was forced to go virtual during the pandemic.

The Duchess of Cornwall joined her husband for the visit to cultural hub The Tabernacle on a hot and sunny day in London, telling a group of steel pan players: "If it had been cooler we could have had a jolly good dance."

Welcomed by stilt walkers and performers in flamboyant outfits, as well as the musicians, the royal couple were treated to a real flavour of the famous street party, which is one of the biggest carnivals in the world after Brazil's Rio Carnival, and Europe's largest street event.

The three-day spectacle of music, dancing, food and drink is rooted in Caribbean culture.

Both Charles and Camilla took selfie photographs with two children as they left the event, after chatting to carnival elders and community leaders.

Dressed in red costumes with colourful headdresses, sisters Natalie, 44, and Claire Johnson, 40, were among those who chatted to the royal visitors.

"For me it's the heritage," said Claire, speaking about the attraction of taking part in the event. "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 The Tabernacle were sculptures made from wire frames and chicken wire by artist Carl Gabriel - including an 8ft tall head and shoulders creation of the Queen wearing a crown, which was part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

"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," Mr Gabriel said.

Later, Charles and Camilla met Melissa Simon Hartman, costume designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Much Ado About Nothing, who began her career creating carnival outfits.

Matthew Phillip, chief executive of the Carnival Village Trust, who hosted the royal visit, said afterwards: "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."

The Notting Hill Carnival takes place on the bank holiday weekend of Saturday 27, Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August

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