William and Kate meet One Direction
The world's best-known couple came face-to-face with the world's biggest boy band this evening.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by members of One Direction as they attended their first Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium.
Kate, r esplendent in a Diane von Furstenburg gown, gave little indication that she is nearly halfway through her second pregnancy.
But that did not deter 1D singer Harry Styles, who said after meeting the Duchess: "I said congratulations on the bump," though he added that she "didn't look bumpy".
The royal couple chatted with the band about their touring plans - with Prince William promising he had been "keeping a close eye" on the young pop stars.
"It's the most nervous I think I've ever been in my life," band member Liam Payne said.
Louis Tomlinson said he feared he had made a serious faux pas. "I didn't say ma'am," he said, as the royal couple made their way into the theatre. "I said - Hi. How are you? I'm Louis." Payne joked: " So he's off to a bad start."
The band was due to take to the stage this evening, along with Bette Midler, Ed Sheeran and the couple's wedding singer, Ellie Goulding. Simply Red, whose frontman Mick Hucknall was one of the favourite artists of William's late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, was also due to perform.
Traditionally, the Queen has taken it in turns with the Prince of Wales to attend the show, a nd it had been expected to be the monarch who would be seated in the royal box this year, b ut William and Kate's attendance is a demonstration of how the younger members of the family are stepping in to help the Queen, who turns 89 next year.
It is thought the Cambridges will take it in turns with the Prince of Wales in future.
"As with any other invitation, attendance by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be assessed on a case-by-case basis," a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall watched the performance last year, while the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh last went in the Diamond Jubilee year of 2012.
The Princess Royal represented the Royal Family in 2011.
The event is held in aid of the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund, of which the Queen is patron. The show will be screened on ITV in December.
There were big laughs from the audience as Kate's old schoolmate, comedian Jack Whitehall, joked about how his mother was disappointed he had not snapped the former Ms Middleton up when he had the chance.
"She'll be doing it tonight, she'll be watching the Royal Variety show and I know what she'll be saying - she'll be like: 'Oh look, there he is,'" he joked. '"The black sheep of the family, embarrassing himself in front of the one that got away.'"
William and Kate have had a number of engagements this month after the Duchess, who is 16 weeks pregnant with her second child, returned to royal duties in late October after her extreme morning sickness - known as hyperemesis gravidarum - showed improvement.