William 'happy' not to be butt of jokes as in-person Royal Variety Performance returns

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after watching the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Picture date: Thursday November 18, 2021.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Royal Variety Show. Credit: PA

The Duke of Cambridge said he was “happy” not to be the butt of any jokes during the first in-person Royal Variety Performance since the Covid-19 pandemic.

William and Kate watched stage stars, musicians and comics, including Josh Widdicombe, Judi Love and Alan Carr as they attended the recording of the Royal Variety performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

The duchess dazzled in a green floor length dress by British designer Jenny Packham that Kate first wore on tour in Pakistan in 2019.

After the show, the royal couple spoke with the night’s performers including comedian Carr and pop star Ed Sheeran, who finished the show with a hit song from his new album Equals and a world exclusive of his new Christmas song with Sir Elton John.

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The duchess “glossed over” an invitation from Widdicombe to appear on his podcast Parenting Hell with Rob Beckett.

The comedian said: “William mentioned he was happy that I hadn’t made any gags about him, I was worried because I had mentioned him at the start. I was delighted by that but I think he has misjudged me as a much more dangerous comic than I am.

“I asked Kate whether she would come on the parenting podcast with me and Rob, she glossed over it. I said it and then I panicked and told her I was only joking. For the record we would take her or Will,” he joked.

The Duke of Cambridge speaking to Ed Sheeran Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

The Royal Variety Performance kicked off with Zoe Simon from Matilda the Musical, who sang the national anthem with the duke and duchess joining in, standing in the royal box.

Other performers on the night included comedy from Love, Bill Bailey and Chris McCausland, and music from Years & Years and Anne-Marie.

After meeting the duke, pop star Anne-Marie said: “William was talking about my long hair and how long it would have taken to wash in the morning, I told him I would cut it off.

“I was nervous 100%. You’re sitting there waiting all day and it’s gradually building up and I got on stage and I felt my heart pounding, I was like please stop.”

The Duchess of Cambridge and Anne-Marie Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

In the show, former America’s Got Talent contestants The Messoudi Brothers showcased their acrobatic act before host Carr, wearing a six-pack suit, said: “I want to show you how strong I am….the loudest ‘no’ is coming from my dad.”

After meeting the duke, Carr added: “I was so nervous, I was more nervous talking to him than I was my performance because I’ve never met him before.

“My parents were in the audience, my mum didn’t know she was going to be such a huge part of my monologue about her bad cooking.

“I’m performing in Plymouth tomorrow, what a come down after this mixing with royalty.”

Alan Carr hosted the evening Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Sheeran finished the show singing The Joker And The Queen for the first time, before he performed a world exclusive debut of his Christmas song Merry Christmas – which he wrote with good friend Sir Elton.

On stage, Sheeran told Carr how Sir Elton had joked that he had wanted to name the song “Pull my Christmas cracker you will get more than a bang”.

In a video shown to the audience, Sir Elton, who was at a different awards ceremony, said: “We have wanted to work together for quite a long time so we decided to write a Christmas song.”

Last year, the charity event was held at the Blackpool Opera House in front of a virtual audience because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The origins of the Royal Variety Performance date back to 1912, when King George V and Queen Mary agreed to attend a Royal Command Performance at the Palace Theatre in London, in aid of the Variety Artistes’ Benevolent Fund.

Celebrating 100 years of royal patronage, the Queen wrote a letter to the Royal Variety Charity sending her best wishes for the evening.

The event is staged in aid of the Royal Variety Charity and money raised from the show helps those people from the world of entertainment in need of care and assistance. The Queen is patron of the charity.

The show will be screened on ITV and the ITV Hub in December.