Kaiser Chiefs led the winners at the 2006 Brit Awards, winning three prizes including best British group and best rock act.
But Coldplay, James Blunt, and US act Green Day also took their share of the glory, taking two awards each.
James Blunt won best pop act and best British male, while Coldplay took best album and single.
Coldplay's Chris Martin hinted he may avoid the limelight. "People are fed up with us and so are we," he said.
Accepting the best British band award, he added: "You won't see us at one of these for many, many years."
Coldplay won best single for Speed of Sound, and best album for X&Y.
Other winners included best British breakthrough act Arctic Monkeys, and KT Tunstall, who won best British female.
Green Day took best international group and best international album for American Idiot, while Madonna won best international female.
James Blunt took two awards at the Earls Court show
Kaiser Chiefs kicked off proceedings by performing I Predict A Riot.
After picking up the best rock act prize, the Leeds-based band's frontman Ricky Wilson said: "This is our first Brits. We weren't meant to win this one. This means the world."
When they accepted the best British group prize, comic Vic Reeves followed them onto the stage, to declare: "I am the ambassador for Leeds, and this is the best band in the world from Leeds."
Blunt accepted his best male award by saying: "I have been accused so many times of singing like a girl that it is amazing to be the best male."
Prince performed his 1980s hits Purple Rain and Let's Go Crazy, in his first Brits apearance since 1997. Other performers included best international female nominee Kelly Clarkson and animated act Gorillaz, who went home empty-handed despite being nominated for two awards.
Madonna was presented with her prize by Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant.
Prince got a rapturous reception from the Earls Court audience
She said: "I would like to thank all of my British fans, without whom I would just be another singer across the pond."
Chris Martin paid tribute to Madonna on stage, joking she was "someone who makes everyone's marriage go funny".
He also defended James Blunt, a frequent target for critics despite his huge success.
"Stop giving James Blunt a hard time. Be proud, he's British," he said.
Best urban act was won by Lemar, while US singer-songwriter Jack Johnson won international breakthrough act.
Kanye West performed with a troupe of gold-painted models
US star Kanye West - who won best international male - performed his track Gold Digger accompanied by 77 women wearing gold body paint and bikinis.
The Arctic Monkeys were unable to attend the ceremony as they were on tour in Portsmouth, and had to accept their prize by video.
Paul Weller was presented with the outstanding contribution to music award by actor Ray Winstone.
The show was hosted by Chris Evans, whose humour hit an awkward note when he tried to joke about Boy George's legal problems in New York, where has denied charges of drug possession.
"Did you really call the NYPD about a burglary when you had 10 bags of drugs under the bed?" Evans asked the former Culture Club frontman when he appeared on stage to present an award.
"I think that might have been you, Chris," the singer replied.
Figures released by the British Phonographic Industry ahead of the Brits showed artists like Blunt, Kaiser Chiefs and Coldplay had helped boost sales of albums by UK-based acts.
British artists sold a record 62.4m albums in 2005 - half of all albums bought in the UK last year.
But the popularity of US artists declined from 41.7% of the album market in 2004 to 37.7% in 2005.