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Gary Barlow rocks the Royals

Gary Barlow was the grateful recipient of royal approval at his Royal Albert Hall show. The Take That front man, who has recently reinvented himself as a tough X Factor judge, was graced by the presence of the Prince of Wales, Camilla, and, to the excited gasps of middle-aged Barlow fans, Prince William and the Duchess formerly known as Kate Middleton.

It was a contractual obligation evening for Prince Charles, as the gig was in aid of his Prince’s Trust charity. The last time he expressed an interest in pop music was when he admitted to a fondness for the Three Degrees back in the 70s.

Most of the attention was on the younger royals. Kate wowed the easily-pleased crowd by wearing a fetching Zara mini dress. William, who probably isn’t a regular gig-goer, wore a sedate navy suit with a maroon tie.

Barlow, who is 40, but could pass for a much older artist, performed Take That hits, and lined up some special guests for the show with Lulu, Jason Donovan and token youngster Olly Murs joining him on stage.

He might have been relieved to be back on stage singing rather than thinking up pithy put-downs on X Factor. In an interview with Esquire he admits to being surprised and a little dismayed at the level of scrutiny his appearances on the show attracts. "It's so intense. All those people out there watching every move you make and analysing it and talking to their friends about it and tweeting and gossiping."

Something he has in common with the Duchess then.

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