Prince William was the dapper host during the Winter Whites Gala at the Kensington Palace Tuesday evening and ended up singing onstage with Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift. The new rock threesome belted out a rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer. The evening was a fundraiser for a charity very close to Prince William’s heart – Centrepoint. Earlier, Prince William had offered to do some twerking, but performer Olivia Sabat, asked him just to listen. Apparently the Prince replied “yeah, that’s fine” but still put in a little twerk action.
This is not the first time Prince William has given a public rendition of this song. The last time was on karaoke at his cousin Zara’s wedding. It was therefore appropriate that when called to the microphone by Bon Jovi, he referred to him as “the karaoke kid.”
Kensington Palace was decked out to look like a winter wonderland for the star-studded event, and Taylor Swift was blown away by the setting. “This is my first time playing at Kensington Palace or any palace for that matter” she enthused. She reported that she found the Prince to be “really funny” and “so cool.” Perhaps, as brother Harry suggested recently, he was enjoying his night off from the “screaming baby.” Wife Kate was next door attending to the royal infant. Prince Harry cheekily suggested that William was jealous of his chance to escape to the South Pole to get away from the din.
The evening commenced with a drinks reception in a marquee. Eliza Doolittle opened the concert and thanked the Prince for “letting us use his gaff tonight.” TV presenter Jonathan Ross was the compere. Other performers included James Blunt and Tine Tempah. Tinie re-arranged the lyrics to his hit Children of the Sun to adopt references to Prince Harry’s naked antics in Las Vegas.
When James Blunt took to the stage William joked that he had sung for him before and dedicated You’re Beautiful to him. He said he “felt a duet with Tinie Tempah” coming on, but in the end, he saved his party piece for the finale with Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift.
The night was designed to be a lot of fun, but with a serious purpose. As very young boys, William and Harry were taken to Centrepoint, the charity for homeless youngsters, by their mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Both remain key supporters and in 2005 William became a Patron. A few years ago William spent a night sleeping rough on the streets of London to experience at first hand the tough reality and perils. He spoke movingly of that night, acknowledging it was just one night and that he knew he had a home and a comfortable bed waiting for him.
He vowed with Seyi Obakin, the founder of Centrpoint, to try to end youth homelessness and set a target of ten years. Despite working tirelessly to achieve that goal, “the problems remain as acute as ever.” He saw this again last week when he visited a Centrepoint in Sunderland. With a rallying cry for continued support from all present, he made a plea to allow all affected “a bed, an education, a job, a future.”
Guests, including Colin and Livia Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch paid £500 for their tickets to attend. The Bon Jovi family were well represented with wife Dorothy and children Jacob, Stephanie and Romeo all there to meet the Prince. They also saw Dad presented with the Centrepoint Great Britain Youth Inspiration Award for humanitarian work. This was in recognition of Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation in the States which he started in 2006. Like Centrepoint, it aims to break the cycle of poverty that can lead into homelessness.
There were also many young people, dubbed “inspiring” by Prince William, who have benefited in the past from the charity.
Taylor Swift was delighted to endorse this message. She said “It’s amazing. To call attention to this age group especially, teens and young adults.” She was honored to support youth in the at-risk bracket, dealing with such problems at an already difficult age. She remembered that at age fifteen she had often felt rejected or lonely, which had led to her writing a song about it.
Taylor was also excited by the fairy-tale atmosphere, telling reporters “Its positively magical here.” Prince William took time out from the throng to go and speak to the technicians who were outside providing the fake snow and making sure everything ran smoothly.
Prince William is clearly a music lover. He had Ellie Goulding to sing at his wedding reception. He and Kate were seen bopping enthusiastically at the Radio One Big Weekend in Bangor in 2010. He and Harry booked Pharell and Kanye for their Concert for Diana, and now he has taken the next step and got on stage himself to perform. Somewhat in the manner of a rat-pack crooner, he was seen to adjust his cuffs and time himself in with some finger-clicks. The three harmonized pretty well, with Bon Jovi on guitar and low notes, Swift taking the top line and William covering the mid-range.
Cynics would well point out that Prince William doesn’t really need to worry about holding on to what he’s got. But with his wholehearted commitment to Centrepoint and other charities he is certainly giving it his best shot, to help others, who do.
By Kate Henderson