Prince Charles has been criticised for joining members of the Saudi royal family and taking part in an Ardah or sword dance in a stadium in the capital Riyadh.

Sword in his hand and wearing traditional robes, the Prince of Wales looked "painfully awkward" as he took part in a ceremony to celebrate cultural life in Saudi Arabia.

But human rights groups have slammed the move, saying the royal "should be under no illusions that outside of the palatial royal residences of Riyadh and Doha, the human rights situation in both countries is desperately bad."

prince charles

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Amnesty International has called on the Prince to have a "frank discussion" with his hosts about key human rights issues.

As the pictures of the dancing royal emerged, many were quick to condemn them:

The Prince is making a short tour of the Middle East visiting Saudi Arabia and Qatar - a trip which comes just under a year since he last toured the two nations.

An Ardah is normally performed at events like weddings and features hundreds of Saudi Arabian men and boys dancing and sing in formation with swords in hand.

prince charles

prince charles

The ceremony was performed to celebrate the Janadriyah Festival, an annual cultural event lasting 17 days which marks all aspects of Saudi life and is being held this week in Riyadh.

The Prince's host was Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, the former head of the Saudi intelligence service who was named as the Second Deputy Prime Minister by King Abdullah last year.

The visit to Saudi Arabia is Charles's 10th official trip to the country since he first toured the nation in 1986.

prince charles

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  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles arrives to participate in the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (L) arrives to participate in the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles wears traditional Saudi uniform as he attends the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wears traditional Saudi uniform as he dances with sword with Saudi Tourism minister Salman bin Sultan (L) during the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wearing traditional Saudi costume talks with unidentified Saudi Emirs after the end of the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wears traditional Saudi costume surrounded by Saudi Emirs and security officers while he leaves the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles looks on upon his arrival to participate in the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wearing traditional Saudi costume is surrounded by unidentified Saudi Emirs after the end of the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wearing traditional Saudi costume is surrounded by unidentified Saudi Emirs after the end of the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (3rd R) wears traditional Saudi uniform as he dance with a sword with Saudi second deputy of Prime Minister (L) and Prince Waleed bin Talal (C) during the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wearing traditional Saudi uniform, dances with sword during the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wearing traditional Saudi costume walks with Saudi second deputy Prime Minister Mugren bin Abdulaziz (L down), surrounded by unidentified Saudi Emirs after the end of the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SAUDI-BRITAIN-ROYALS-DIPLOMACY

    Britain's Prince Charles (C) wearing traditional Saudi costume is surrounded by unidentified Saudi Emirs after the end of the traditional Saudi dancing best known as 'Arda' performed during the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, on February 18, 2014. Charles arrived in Saudi Arabia on a private visit. AFP PHOTO/POOL/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)