The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have joined Lunar New Year celebrations marking the start of the Year of the Tiger.
Charles and Camilla were welcomed to London’s Soho district, the spiritual home of the capital’s Chinese community, for the colourful event.
The couple had red scarves placed around their necks when they arrived. The colour symbolises luck, joy and happiness for the Chinese.
A traditional dragon dance was performed by acrobats in the open as hundreds gathered for the celebrations.
The Lunar New Year, starting on February 1, is the start of a two-week celebration and the most important holiday for millions of people around the world.
During the festival, homes are festooned with red paper lanterns and families gather to share feasts, enjoying symbolic dishes such as dumplings, representing gold ingots, and noodles, denoting long life.
Before the start of the Lunar New Year, Charles issued a message to those in China and around the globe marking the event.
He urged the world to create a better future for the next generation by living and working in “harmony with nature and the planet”.
“As we enter the Year of the Tiger, known for courageous action and rising to challenge and adventure, I hope the whole world will make this a year of action," Charles said.
“Together, let’s create a better future for all our children by shifting the way we live and work to be in harmony with nature and the planet.”
During the visit, the couple stepped inside a building to see the work of calligrapher Dr Chan Cheng and tried their hand at the artform, writing the Chinese symbol for “harmony”, described by the expert as an auspicious gesture designed to bring happiness.
The visit was aimed as a boost to the community, whose businesses have suffered during the lockdowns.
Chinese residents have also endured increasing racist abuse as a result of the pandemic.
The prince joined a private meeting of senior police, community groups and other figures on the serious effects of hate crime, hearing how one officer of Chinese heritage had suffered 12 incidents in the last year.
The duchess, meanwhile, toured the basement offices of the Chinese Information and Advice Centre, which provides free legal advice and advocacy to disadvantaged members of the community and supports victims of issues from domestic abuse to racism.
Camilla praised the centre’s volunteers telling them: “What would we do without our volunteers? The country would collapse. You are doing brilliant work.”
Edmond Yeo, the centre’s chairman who hosted the royal visit, said he was “so proud” of the community reaction to the royal visit.
Later the prince was given an icon of St Corona after he visited Dr Irina Bradley’s Metamorphosis icon exhibition at the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Mayfair, London.
Dr Bradley, who painted the artwork presented to Charles, is one of the UK’s leading iconographers and the prince told her he was “very impressed” as he strolled along a corridor admiring the works on display.
“He is a lovely gentleman and he appreciates the traditional arts," she said after the visit. “He was delighted to see that so many students were here today as well.”