Prince William and Taylor Swift's Viral Encounter, Explained

Prince William and Taylor Swift are pictured here in November 2013 in London, England, on the night of their viral performance. Credit - Dave J Hogan for Centrepoint—Getty Images

Jon Bon Jovi said in a new interview that Taylor Swift created the viral moment that found Prince William singing Bon Jovi’s 1986 hit “Livin’ on a Prayer” with the two music artists.

The royal joined the singers on stage at the Centrepoint Gala Dinner, a charity event for a homelessness non-profit organization, at Kensington Palace in London in November 2013.

“It was all her,” Bon Jovi told the Independent. “She literally grabbed him by the arm and ran up on stage, and they both knew the words and sang along.”

Bon Jovi told the news outlet he’s “grateful to this day” that Swift, who released a double album on Friday, encouraged Prince William. Bon Jovi is currently promoting his documentary Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story streaming on Disney+ on April 26.

Swift and Prince William have also both recalled the moment in the years since—although they’ve given slightly different retellings.

In one video of the episode, Bon Jovi begins strumming, about to sing “Livin’ on a Prayer,” before speaking up. “And just maybe the karaoke kid could come up and sing a couple words,” the singer said, to cheers from the crowd, adding “you’re going to come up for the chorus.”

According to Swift, Bon Jovi pointed to Prince William and said something like “I hear you like to do this at karaoke night,” she told The Graham Norton Show in 2014. Bon Jovi started the song, and Swift said Prince William looked at her and started “kind of freaking out a little bit,” saying he didn’t remember the words and telling her “you’ve got to go with me.”

So they went up on stage to sing and “I died,” she said with a laugh.

“It was insane,” she said earlier in the interview. “I was very nervous for the whole thing, because I was at Kensington Palace and it was my first royal encounter of sorts.”

Prince William also recalled the night in an episode of Apple Fitness+’s Time to Walk podcast in 2021. The royal was seated next to the singer and said that “after Jon does his first song, there’s a pause, and she turns to me. She puts her hand on my arm, looks me in the eye, and says, ‘Come on, William. Let’s go and sing.’”

“To this day, I still do not know what came over me. Honestly, even now I’m cringing at what happened next, and I don’t understand why I gave in. But, frankly, if Taylor Swift looks you in the eye, touches your arm, and says, ‘Come with me…’ I got up like a puppy and went, ‘Yeah, okay, that seems like a great idea. I’ll follow you,” the Prince of Wales said. “I walked up on stage in a trance, and then sort of halfway through Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ song, I wake up, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Am I standing on the stage singing…when I don’t even know the words?’”

But Prince William said that everyone was “loving it and cheering away,” so he thought he might as well enjoy it.

“I can’t be the doofus who’s going to ruin it for everyone. And so I desperately try and remember some of the words and sing as hard as I can,” he said. “Beneath my black tie, there was a lot of sweating going on. I felt like a swan, where I was trying to keep myself composed on the outside, but inside, the little legs are paddling fast.”

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