Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall kicked off their St Patrick’s Day celebrations early today in West London.
The heir-to-the-throne, 73 and his wife, 74, learned to play the bodhrán and met with Irish artists at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith this morning to celebrate its 25th anniversary ahead of their own official visit to the Emerald Isle next week.
The Prince of Wales got to pour his own pint of Guinness and enjoyed several sips, before being treated to a performance by Irish dancers.
The Duchess of Cornwall looked stylish in a silky green number from Samantha Cameron’s label Cefinn.
The visit comes as Ireland prepares to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on Thursday. The prince has developed a real affinity for Ireland in recent years and it showed in his enthusiasm to get involved with everything that was presented to him.
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The heir-to-the-throne, 73 and his wife, 74, learned to play the Bodhrán and met with Irish artists at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith this morning
The Prince of Wales got to pour his own pint of Guinness and sampled the drink during his visit today
The couple first joined a group of musicians playing instruments including fiddles, banjos, flutes, a concertina, the uilleann pipes and acoustic guitar.
Charles and Camilla – who was wearing a pretty green silk print dress by Samatha Cameron’s label Cefinn, chosen, she said, in honour of St Patrick’s Day this week – sat down on chairs amongst the group and tapped their toes.
Then it was time for their go, with musician Tad Sargent, 36, from Kent, who has been playing for 17 years thanks to his Irish mother.
He explained how they needed to balance the drum on their knees and hold the stick pointing towards their heart and flick it against the instrument.
The Duchess of Cornwall looked stylish in a green silk dress by Samantha Cameron’s label Cefinn, while Prince Charles was dapper in a blue striped suit
The couple shared a chuckle after Camilla pointed out Prince Charles had some Guinness froth on his nose
The Prince of Wales enjoyed several sips of his Guinness during his visit to the cultural centre in West London
The couple both joined in, Charles particularly deftly, and waved his stick in triumph as the crowd cheered him.
After thanking the musicians, Charles and Camilla gamely volunteered to go behind the bar to pour a pint of Ireland’s famous ‘black stuff’.
‘I know what my next job is going to be,’ joked Camilla, who, of course, was recently anointed the next Queen Consort by Her Majesty.
Volunteer barmaid Jude Hynes, 56, explained to the future king that he needed to tip the glass to one side as he poured, then place the glass – three quarters full – to settle, before topping it off.
The future king struggled to get to grips with it at first but then soon got the hang of it. As he placed his pint on the bar to settle, Jude said: ‘Perfect, perfect. Now let the magic happen.’
Cheers! The Prince sampled his Guinness while the centre’s staff and onlookers cheered him on
After a crash course in Irish music, the Prince of Wales learned to pour his own Guinness while the Duchess looked on
The couple were treated to a performance by Irish dancers, after which the Prince of Wales unveilled a plaque commemorating his visit to the centre
He was then given a second punt to top off. ‘How much longer are we going to have to wait for it,’ he said impatiently, clearly eager to have a try. ‘Thirty seconds,’ said Jude.
He raised his glass to his wife and then to the room before taking a sip, quickly followed by another one. Camilla fondly pointed out that he had a spot of white froth on his nose and the prince good-natured wiped it off.
It certainly seems as if the prince is partial to Guinness as he returned to his pint when the rest of the party – including his wife – were already leaving the bar, giggling: ‘Just one more.’
At the centre’s knitting group, Charles enthusiastically greeted the ladies with a warm ‘knitting and nattering’, prompting them to burst into fits of laughter.
Charles chatted to Margaret Mulligan, 68, from Hammersmith, who runs the group which meets at the centre once a week He told her that he had tried to learn knitting when he was ‘six or seven’ but ‘failed miserably’.
‘They tried to teach me,’ he said. ‘It’s quite therapeutic isn’t it? I’m always amazed how the ladies can watch television and knit at the same time. ‘
Camilla and Charles took part in the activities prepared for them by the centre and sang an Irish song
‘My mother was very good at doing that,’ replied Margaret. She said afterwards: ‘He was absolutely lovely and so passionate about keeping traditional arts and crafts.
He understood how the group is also about company and friendship and supporting each other.‘
The prince also asked grandmother of 11 Cathy Richardson how long she had been knitting She had him in stitches by loudly declaring: ‘Listen, love, I’ve been knitting since I was four years of age!’
The finale of the visit was a display of magnificent Irish dancing – a display so vigorous that one of the dancers knocked the plaque the couple were due to unveil over on the stage.
A very cheerful prince enthused: ‘Well it’s already been unveiled by some very energetic dancing, so all I can do is…..’
He then jokingly high-kicked one of his legs, to roars of laugher, and pulled the red covering off with a flourish.
Peter Power-Hyes, chairman of the Irish Cultural Club, told the visitors that it had been a ‘great honour’ to have them and wished them a ‘safe and pleasant trip to Ireland’.
He added: ‘ There may be some more Guinness over there!’ Speaking after the visit he spoke of his delight that the couple had taken time to come to see them.
‘They were such good fun, such lovely people and clearly had an affinity for Ireland.
The prince told me he thought Guinness was the nicest drink ever invented and asked who finished his pint when he went upstairs. He also told me that he is very keen to learn Irish too.’
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