The Duke of Cambridge was guest of honour tonight at a glittering fundraiser for the youth homeless charity Centrepoint. Ellie Goulding, Craig David, Conor Maynard and Dirty Vegas were lined up to perform after a dinner and a charity auction for 420 guests. Multi Grammy-award winning singer Phil Collins had been due to headline but had to pull out after doctors advised him not to travel due to ill health.
A spokesman for Centrepoint said: "He's very sad not to be here tonight, but we hope to work with him again soon. Phil's song Another Day in Paradise is an iconic song which woke the world to the issue of homelessness. Nights like tonight are pivotal to raise the money so that young people can leave Centrepoint and homelessness behind."
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William, who is patron of the organisation, attended the star-studded event in the grounds of his Kensington Palace home after a private reception where he met supporters and young people helped by Centrepoint.
William's cousin, Princess Beatrice, was among the guests, along with another of his cousins, Lady Kitty Spencer, wearing a floor-length black gown and stunning diamond necklace by Chopard. Lady Kitty, who is a Centrepoint Ambassador, said she was inspired to back the charity after visiting one of their centres.
She said: "I listened to some of the young people talk about their experiences and I really, really wanted to be involved. It struck a chord. These are people who are my age. I felt the need to be part of it. It's all part of supporting Centrepoint," she said. "Whether you're coming to Kensington Palace or doing the sleep you're supporting Centrepoint." Earl Spencer's daughter added: "It's a great way to raise awareness."
Celebrity attendees included legendary music producers Nile Rodgers, Joan Collins, Nicky Haslam, Liz Hurley, Evgeny Lebedev, Holly Valance and husband Nick Candy and Centrepoint ambassadors Sara Cox, Bond star Colin Salmon and actress and former Loose Women panellist Lisa Maxwell
Guests for the dinner in a marquee in the grounds of the Palace paid upwards of £1,000 for ticket, with some individual corporate tickets going for as much as £5,000.
In 2009 William got a taste of life on the streets when he spent a night sleeping rough near Blackfriars Bridge with the charity. Centrepoint was his first royal patronage, following in the footsteps of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who took her sons on private visits to the charity's hostels when she was Patron. Lady Kitty Spenceris following in William's footsteps this year, and sleeping out for the charity in two weeks time.
The night also features the charity’s second annual Centrepoint Awards, hosted by Centrepoint ambassador Jonathan Ross and sponsored by Chopard. The awards, across five different categories, recognise the success of remarkable young people who have experienced homelessness and overcome their difficulties with the charity’s help. A VIP guest will also receive The Centrepoint Youth Inspiration Award. Previous winners include rock star Jon Bon Jovi and tennis ace Novak Djokovic.
Guests were also set to bid on a string of unique lots during a live auction – from luxury holidays by private jet to having their child becoming a character in the next David Walliams novel. The charity is hoping to raise £1.5 million through the event, which is sponsored by the Reuben Foundation.
Prince William arrives at the gala with Seyi Obakin, CEO of Centrepoint
The money raised will go towards providing homeless young people with a safe place to stay and vital help in tackling health problems and accessing education or work Ahead of the gala, where he had been due to perform, Phil Collins said: “Thirty years ago I wrote Another Day in Paradise in response to the shocking number of people sleeping on the streets. It was a terrible problem back then and, though things improved for a time, it seems we’re back to where we started.
“It’s just depressing to think the number of young people finding themselves rough sleeping, with all the terror and danger that brings, has more than doubled over the last five years."
Ellie Goulding, who is a friend of Princes William and Harry and sang at the 2011 Royal Wedding reception at Buckingham Palace, said: “It’s very easy for a young person to become homeless and it can happen very quickly. It’s terrible to think that there are thousands of people, not much younger than me, who find themselves with nowhere to go and feeling like they have no place in the world.
“I’m supporting Centrepoint because it’s keeping young people safe and giving them a chance. I’m proud to be performing at Centrepoint at the Palace and celebrating what young people have achieved in leaving homelessness behind.”
Craig David said: “I’m honoured to be a part of Centrepoint at the Palace and am thrilled to be working with a charity that does such amazing things to help troubled under-25 year olds get their lives in order and put a roof over their heads.”
A spokesperson for the Reuben Foundation, which focuses on education, healthcare and the community in the UK and worldwide, said: “No young person should grow up facing homelessness or the uncertain future that it brings. For nearly 50 years Centrepoint has been keeping the most vulnerable safe and ensuring their creativity and ambition isn’t lost to society. That work simply must continue, which is why the Reuben Foundation is proud to support this wonderful charity in staging Centrepoint at the Palace.”
Richard Utting, Event Director at Centrepoint, added: “[This is] an unmissable evening’s entertainment for a hugely important cause. The 150,000 young people who experience homelessness each year in the UK are as talented as any of their peers, but through no fault of their own, they’re forced to put their dreams on hold. “With Centrepoint’s help they can turn their lives around and go on to achieve amazing things. We need to make sure homeless young people continue to get the support they deserve and the opportunities they need to build a future for themselves.”