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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
Stars honour Prince Philip
Prince Philip with three members of Hear'Say
Groups who performed at the concert included Hear'Say
Dozens of stars have performed at a concert to mark the Duke of Edinburgh's 80th birthday.

Popstars group Hear'Say lined up alongside Dame Shirley Bassey and Lionel Richie for the evening of music and comedy, which brought together performers from several generations.

The concert came less than 24 hours after the prince had to deny allegations that he had made critical remarks about his son, Prince Charles.

Countess of Wessex
The Countess of Wessex also attended the gala performance
But the controversy was forgotten for Thursday night's performance, which also saw performances from soul diva Dina Carroll, Spice Girl Mel B and even the Tiller Girls.

It is not known whether the duke is a fan of newcomers Hear'Say, who sang their number one hit Pure and Simple, Mamas and Papas song Monday Monday, and Ain't No Mountain High Enough, but there were plenty of acts to suit all tastes.

The Duke, who is 80 on 10 June, was joined at London's Royal Albert Hall by his son Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and the Countess of Wessex.

BBC broadcast

Claire Sweeney, the Brookside soap actress who also starred in the celebrity version of Big Brother, took to the stage to sing a rendition of Gershwin's 1920s classic I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise.

The show also featured actress Penelope Keith, who played Elizabeth I, Jerry Hall and musicians Julian Lloyd Webber and Larry Adler.

Hosted by TV presenters Carol Smillie and Richard Blackwood the evening was being filmed for broadcast later in the year on BBC One.

As well as commemorating the duke's 80th birthday the show celebrated 45 years of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Awards celebrated

Hundreds of people who have taken part in the award scheme, which offers service to the community and personal development, attended the gala performance.

Since it began in 1956, more than three million young people in the UK have benefited from the scheme.

Ms Sweeney said her performance in front of the Duke was particularly meaningful because a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme helped to fund her spell at drama college.

TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh rushed from the Chelsea Flower Show to perform a sketch in the Prince's concert.

See also:

23 May 01 | UK
Palace denies royal rift
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