Frank Skinner reveals Countess of Wessex criticised his singing performance in 'awkward' exchange

The Countess of Wessex with Frank Skinner and David Baddiel - WPA Pool/Getty
The Countess of Wessex with Frank Skinner and David Baddiel - WPA Pool/Getty

Frank Skinner has revealed the Countess of Wessex criticised his performance of Three Lions in an "awkward" exchange.

The actor and comedian said he had an extraordinary argument with Prince Edward's wife, Sophie Wessex, after she deprecated his performance of Three Lions with David Baddiel at last week's Royal Variety Performance.

The comedy duo sang their hit England football anthem in front of a packed audience and a host of other celebrity stars performing at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday, in a show due to be broadcast on TV on December 20.

However Skinner said that afterwards, rather than exchanging the usual royal pleasantries, both the Earl and Countess of Wessex told him they thought he wasn't very good.

Skinner, who had arrived for rehearsals feeling unwell, but still performed, said he thought the royal couple might be out of practice with appearing at public occasions.

Struggling through the song

He said: "I was gradually getting more ill, and more ill, as the day went on. I was struggling. We were singing Three Lions. So I croaked my way through the dress rehearsal.

"And then, on the night, we did the show. I made Dave sound like Mario Lanza on the night. It actually hurt to sing it. Four minutes of hurt never stopped me singing. I was in physical pain.

"Then we had our royal thing. Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex - I think The Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar is their official title.

"Sophie led the way, bearing in mind I'd had a really hard day and I battled on like a trooper. So she comes up and she says 'Well, don't give up your day job'.

"I thought 'This is not how the royal walk thing works'. And we honestly said 'Pardon?'

"It's supposed to be just banal compliments.

"I said 'Was it that bad?' And she said: 'Well, you know, I could tell, you know, it's not what you do'.

"And I said 'Erm, well, normally we're like comics'. She said 'Yeah, but you're on screen aren't you, you're not used to a live crowd'.

"I said: 'Well we've done a bit of live stuff you know, stand-up and stuff'. But she's sticking with it and she said 'Yeah, but you haven't done anywhere the size of this'.

"I said 'Look, I did the Palladium last Sunday'.

"She looked at me like 'you're not supposed to be arguing, I don't think you're supposed to be arguing with me, you're supposed to just nod'. It was like a really awkward thing."

'A good review'

Skinner said Edward then also came up to him and Baddiel and criticised their performance, and while he could not remember the Earl's exact words, he recalled sarcastically replying: "that's a good review".

He said: "The first thing he said to me, I said 'Oh, that's a good review', because that was also quite a negative thing about our performance - but I can't remember what it was.

"He went on to say that a lot of people think he is Charles's son - not his brother."

Skinner, recounting the conversation on his weekend Absolute Radio show, said he thought the royal pair had been thrust into the limelight again because of the deaths of the late Queen and Prince Philip and Princes Andrew and Harry falling out of favour.

Making small talk

He said: "I think what's happened is they don't really do this stuff much, and they've (the royals) been reduced in numbers for various reasons, and so they've been pulled out to do this - and it's a bit of a skill just talking to someone for 10 minutes and not upsetting them."

He said eventually Edward ran out of things to say to him, adding: "There was a bit where it just died, the conversation - it never happens with the royals - it just like died.

"There was a moment where it was probably three seconds, but it felt like 10 minutes, he said 'So, things are well?' And I thought 'No. Come on'. And in the end I started to think I wanted to put my arm round him a bit. I think it's tough."