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Royal Christmas concert pays tribute to John Lennon on anniversary of his death


By PA News

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The Princess of Wales’ Christmas concert paid a poignant tribute to John Lennon and George Michael as her children made a rare appearance for a night of carol singing.

Kate hosted her Together At Christmas event at Westminster Abbey and welcomed her family, members of the monarchy and inspiring individuals in celebration of those supporting children and families.

The Prince of Wales arrived with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, after Kate travelled ahead to thank celebrities for agreeing to perform, including Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and singers Beverley Knight and Adam Lambert.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis hold candles during the Royal Carols – Together At Christmas service at Westminster Abbey (Chris Jackson/PA)
Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis hold candles during the Royal Carols – Together At Christmas service at Westminster Abbey (Chris Jackson/PA)

As they walked into the Abbey’s forecourt the royal children paused for a moment to post Christmas cards, in a special postbox, containing messages for children who might be struggling this Christmas, something open to all youngsters attending.

The young royals – George, 10, Charlotte, eight, and five-year-old Louis – were all smartly dressed while their mother wore a Chris Kerr coat.

This year the service reflects the princess’s early years Shaping Us campaign launched in January, which aims to highlight and promote the significance of the formative years of a child’s life.

The Princess of Wales with Roman and Shirlie Kemp at Westminster Abbey (Chris Jackson/PA)
The Princess of Wales with Roman and Shirlie Kemp at Westminster Abbey (Chris Jackson/PA)

It was billed as a moment to thank all those who work to support babies, young children and families in communities across the UK and among the 1,500 guests were midwives, nursery teachers and baby bank volunteers.

Among the highlights of the service was songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier playing Wham!’s hit Last Christmas on John Lennon’s piano, which was owned by Wham! singer and later solo star George Michael and loaned by his estate.

The Princess of Wales speaks to Jacob Collier and Adam Lambert before Collier performed at the service (Chris Jackson/PA)
The Princess of Wales speaks to Jacob Collier and Adam Lambert before Collier performed at the service (Chris Jackson/PA)

The carol service was held 43 years to the day Lennon was shot dead, aged 40, outside his New York apartment on December 8 1980.

Broadcaster Roman Kemp, the son of Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp and former Wham! backing singer Shirlie Kemp, introduced Collier and talked about the role George Michael, who was his godfather, played in his life.

Among the large number of royal guests were the Duchess of Edinburgh, Princess Beatrice her stepson Christopher Mapelli Mozzi and husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips and his daughters Savannah and Isla.

Princess Beatrice, Christopher Mapelli Mozzi and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi leaving Westminster Abbey after the service (Chris Jackson/PA)
Princess Beatrice, Christopher Mapelli Mozzi and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi leaving Westminster Abbey after the service (Chris Jackson/PA)

Before the concert started Kate met celebrities in the Abbey’s stunning 16th century Lady Chapel, and chatting to Broadbent expressed her appreciation at him agreeing to read an extract from Letters From Father Christmas by Lord Of The Rings author JRR Tolkien.

She said: “Thank you for your time because I know the lead up to Christmas can be busy for people.”

Kate appeared to joke with multi-instrumentalist Collier, who has posted music tutorial videos on YouTube, about her daughter learning the piano and he quipped “many a plink and a plonk”.

She also walked around the Abbey before the event began, speaking to young people who have done inspiring activities.

Kate crouched down to chat to seven-year-old Oscar Burrow, from Lancaster, who when aged six climbed 12 mountains raising more than £40,000 for Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley, Lancashire.

His mother Kimberley Burrow said afterwards: “She said she’d heard about what he’s done and he’s doing a fantastic job, and hopes what he’s doing will inspire other children to do amazing things.”

The service began with the popular carol, Once In Royal David’s City, and the congregation also heard a duet by Beverley Knight and Adam Lambert who performed The Christmas Song, made famous by Nat King Cole.

Prince Louis blows out a candle held by Princess Charlotte (Chris Jackson/PA)
Prince Louis blows out a candle held by Princess Charlotte (Chris Jackson/PA)

William read the passage from the Gospel according to Luke that describes how Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem to be registered, and the birth of Jesus.

The Abbey echoed with the voices of its choir and the congregation singing a selection of carols including Silent Night, Holy Night and Joy To The World, as well as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

The event will be broadcast as part of Royal Carols, a special programme airing at 7.45pm on ITV1 and ITV X on Christmas Eve, featuring additional material including an introduction by Kate and films emphasising the importance of early childhood.

It will include contributions from Rio and Kate Ferdinand, Ugo Monye, Andrea and Virginia Bocelli and Dame Sheila Hancock.

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