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Royal family set to miss Royal Variety Performance for first time in its history

The Queen is patron of the Royal Variety Charity

Danielle Stacey

The royals are set to miss out on one of their annual nights out in the winter calendar, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's Royal Variety Performance is set to have a virtual audience instead this year and will be hosted by Jason Manford at the Blackpool Opera House on 29 November.

Senior members of the royal family usually attend the performance, which has been held at the London Palladium in recent years, but this will be the first year the show will not have royal guests in its audience since it began in 1912.

Instead, the Prince of Wales will record a special video of thanks for the Royal Variety Performance.

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WATCH: William and Kate enjoy a glamorous night out at the Royal Variety Performance 2019

Acts at the 2020 performance will include Captain Sir Tom Moore, who will appear remotely from his home for a performance with singer Michael Ball for their cover of You'll Never Walk Alone. 

There will also be a solo performance by Gary Barlow, and Sheridan Smith will reprise the role of Cilla Black in a musical theatre number. Other acts on the night include Celeste, Spice Girl Melanie C and the recently-reformed Steps, as well as a musical comedy show from Britain's Got Talent 2020 winner Jon Courtenay.

The annual event, the world's longest-running entertainment show, is staged in aid of the Royal Variety Charity, whose patron is the Queen, and money raised will help support people from the world of entertainment.

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The Sussexes attended in 2018

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were last year's royal guests, with Kate wowing in a black lace Alexander McQueen gown. The couple attended the show for the first time together in 2014 and also in 2017.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were guests at the 2018 performance, with Meghan stunning in a black and white sequin halter-neck top and a satin black skirt by Safiyaa.

Giles Cooper, chairman of the Royal Variety Charity, said: "The Royal Variety Charity is thrilled that the Royal Variety Performance will be held in Blackpool this year.

"We have worked relentlessly to ensure that we can produce a Royal Variety Performance in some shape or form to raise much--needed funds at this critical time.

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The Queen at the Royal Variety Performance in the first year of her reign in 1952

"We are honoured that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has recorded a message of support for our charity, which continues to assist those from the world of entertainment, both young and old, since our formation in 1908.

"In 2020 our grants scheme has continued to operate throughout the United Kingdom, providing financial help for those from the world of entertainment, in all its forms.

"The Royal Variety Charity is proud to have been of assistance to those working in the industry during this particularly difficult year."

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