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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in high spirits at Royal Variety Performance

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at the Royal Variety Performance on Thursday, looking happy and ready for a fun night ahead as guests including Ed Sheeran and friend Ellie Goulding prepared to perform for the royal couple.

Prince William kept close to the pregnant Duchess, nee Kate Middleton, who looked gorgeous in a long black gown with full-length lace sleeves by Diane von Furstenberg.

The dress showed off her blossoming baby bump, and she accessorised with a sparkly black clutch and Lola blue topaz hoop earrings by Kiki McDonough, while wearing her gorgeous brunette locks in a low chignon.

william kate royal © Photo: Getty Images

William and Kate arrive at the 2014 Royal Variety Performance

TheRoyal Variety Performance will see the royal couple enjoy an unforgettable evening of music, theatre, comedy and dance from the London Palladium's Royal box. After the show,  William and Kate will meet the acts which include Demi Lovato and Britain's Got Talent winners Collabro.

The star-studded show will be hosted by award winning comedian Michael McIntyre while Russell Kane, Jake Whitehall, Sarah Millican and Trevor Noah will be providing the stand-up comedy.

The programme will air on ITV in December, and is a staple of the Christmas TV season in Britain. It has been running for over 100 years and is always attended by members of the British royal family.

william kate royal 8 © Photo: Getty Images

The Queen and Prince Charles usually alternate attendance but William and Kate chose to attend this year

The pair, who are expcting their second child in April, left one-year-old Prince George at home to celebrate the annual event, but no doubt their minds will still be on their young one. On Wednesday William spoke fondly of his young son when he was presented with a set of Christmas bells and quickly saw their potential for helping keep track of his energetic son. As he accepted the gift from a group of schoolchildren at a charity dinner for SkillForce, William told them how useful the musical bells would be for his 16-month-old child.

"We'll put these in his pockets," said William. "Then we'll know where he is in the house!"

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