William and Kate take excited royal children on first red carpet for panto

Prince William and wife Kate treated their three children to a special Christmas pantomime to celebrate Britain’s coronavirus heroes.

Excited Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis sat with their parents in the royal box tonight to watch a special performance of Pantoland for key workers at the London Palladium, starring Julian Clary and Elaine Page.

It was the Cambridges’ first red carpet engagement as a family of five.

The children, who had looked a little shy when they arrived on the red carpet, relaxed and looked on with glee as they took their seats and saw their father Prince William on stage making a speech before the start of the show.

Louis perched on his mother’s lap, while George sat nonchalantly at the other end, and Charlotte in the middle chatted animatedly to Kate and leaned over to talk to her.

In his speech, the second in line to the throne paid tribute to Britain’s key workers and also marked the death of Dame Barbara Windsor, whose heartbroken husband Scott Mitchell said the 83 year old had died peacefully from Alzheimer’s at a London care home on Thursday evening.

William said: “Before I go on, I want to pause and pay tribute to a true national treasure, Dame Barbara Windsor, who so sadly passed away last night.

“She was a giant of the entertainment world, and of course a legend on pantomime stages across the country including here at the London Palladium.

“And I know we’ll all miss her hugely.”

Tuning the attention to the audience sitting in family groups with social distancing between them: “We are here tonight for a very special performance. Special, because of you – the key workers here in the audience.

“You include community workers, volunteers, teachers, NHS staff, representatives from the emergency services and military, researchers working on the vaccine, people helping the homeless, those manning vital call centres, and staff from a wide range of frontline charities – to name but a few.

“You have given your absolute all this year, and made remarkable sacrifices.

“So too have your families, who I’m sure have seen far less of you than they would have liked.

“It’s lovely that you are all here together tonight.

“You are representative of the huge number of people across the UK who have stepped forward to make a difference this year in so many crucial ways.

“The country owes you a huge debt of gratitude.”

For much of William’s speech, Louis was focused on a big glitter ball hanging from the ceiling above the main part of the auditorium, pointing upwards at it and talking to Kate, who was in an Alessandra Rich dress.

When William returned to the box, there was a swift shuffling of seats, as William came to sit between his eldest son and daughter, leaving Charlotte doing a joking face palm as if her dad had embarrassed her.

Pantoland, billed as a celebration of pantomime, also featured a host of other stars including singer Beverley Knight and dancer Ashley Banjo.

The panto, hosted by the National Lottery, was held to thank key workers and their families for their efforts in keeping London going during the coronavirus pandemic.

During the interval Kate also met key workers and their families to hear more about their experiences over the past year.

The trip to the pantomime follows their three-day Royal Train tour around England, Scotland and Wales to pay tribute to the work of individuals and organisations that have gone above and beyond in response to the crisis.

Their visits also showcased performances from the UK’s arts and heritage industries, which have been supported throughout the pandemic by the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.