Grammys 2021: Host Trevor Noah mocks Royal Family in opening monologue

Trevor Noah kicked off the 63rd annual Grammy Awards by taking a swipe at the royal family, comparing the event to the Capitol riots, and joking about cocaine during an incredibly divisive opening monologue.

Noah quickly took aim at the royals in the first minutes of the ceremony on Sunday night, mocking the ‘tension’ within Buckingham Palace – exactly one week to the hour after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s explosive sit-down aired on CBS, the same network that broadcast this year’s Grammy Awards. 

Kicking off the socially-distanced event, which took place in an open-air tent, Noah joked: ‘…Our impressive nominees will be sitting at those tables for their awards. So right now there is more tension in that tent than at a family reunion at Buckingham Palace.’

The Daily Show host also made a quick crack about the Capitol riots, claiming that the Grammy Awards would be the ‘biggest outdoor event this year… besides the storming of the Capitol’, despite earlier insisting that the show would ‘not be about politics’. 

Mockery: Grammy Awards host Trevor Noah took a swipe at the royal family just seconds into his opening monologue, one week after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's bombshell sit-down

Mockery: Grammy Awards host Trevor Noah took a swipe at the royal family just seconds into his opening monologue, one week after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's bombshell sit-down

Mockery: Grammy Awards host Trevor Noah took a swipe at the royal family just seconds into his opening monologue, one week after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell sit-down

Couldn't wait? The 37-year-old late night host hadn't even made it to the stage before he trolled the royals, joking about the 'tension' in Buckingham Palace

Couldn't wait? The 37-year-old late night host hadn't even made it to the stage before he trolled the royals, joking about the 'tension' in Buckingham Palace

Couldn't wait? The 37-year-old late night host hadn't even made it to the stage before he trolled the royals, joking about the 'tension' in Buckingham Palace

Couldn't wait? The 37-year-old late night host hadn't even made it to the stage before he trolled the royals, joking about the 'tension' in Buckingham Palace

Couldn’t wait? The 37-year-old late night host hadn’t even made it to the stage before he trolled the royals, joking about the ‘tension’ in Buckingham Palace 

He then went on to make a thinly-veiled drug reference while touting the security measures taken to keep all attendees safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying: ‘This is going to be the rare award show where the white stuff going up people’s noses is cotton swabs.’ 

Reaction to the political joke was incredibly mixed, with some slamming Noah as ‘shameful’ and ‘distasteful’ for trying to make light of the Capitol riots – during which five people died – while others applauded his risque humor. 

‘I turned off the Grammy Awards as soon as you made that joke about the Capitol attack,’ one viewer wrote on Twitter. ‘You think that was funny? “The largest outdoor event since the attack on the Capitol.” Shameful.’ 

One person then branded the joke as ‘gauche’ while another outraged spectator chimed in: ‘Totally distasteful comment from @trevornoah regarding the Grammys being the biggest outdoor event since the storming of the Capitol.’ 

‘Not funny. People died there,’ another Twitter user hit back at the host.  

However some praised the host’s decision to bring up such a controversial topic, with one person calling his opening monologue ‘fantastic’ and ‘hilarious’. 

One added: ‘@trevornoah with the Capitol riot jokes is the opening I needed.’ 

‘In first 5 mins, beloved @trevornoah has made a dig at zoom calls, Capitol Insurgency, post-award drugs and the Royal Family. WE LOVE HIM!’ another added. 

Upset: Noah's joke about the Capitol prompted fury from some online, with viewers branding the host 'distasteful' and 'shameful' for making light of the riots, during which five people died

Upset: Noah's joke about the Capitol prompted fury from some online, with viewers branding the host 'distasteful' and 'shameful' for making light of the riots, during which five people died

Upset: Noah’s joke about the Capitol prompted fury from some online, with viewers branding the host ‘distasteful’ and ‘shameful’ for making light of the riots, during which five people died

Amused: Others praised his risque jokes, with one calling the opening monologue 'fantastic'

Amused: Others praised his risque jokes, with one calling the opening monologue 'fantastic'

Amused: Others praised his risque jokes, with one calling the opening monologue ‘fantastic’

Ironically, given the very divided opinions of the viewers at home, Noah added that he wanted this year’s awards show to ‘bring us together as only music can’ – having told Billboard ahead of the ceremony that he hoped the ceremony would be ‘a moment of hope’ amid the pandemic. 

He also insisted that – unlike his late night show – the awards ceremony would not focus on politics. 

‘An awards show is very different from The Daily Show. We’re speaking to a broader audience, it’s not politics,’ he said. 

‘I’m not there to do politics, I’m there to do music.’

The awards show aired just hours after Harry came under furious fire for allowing his interview with the TV mogul to be aired by the same network that caused outrage by showing a photograph of his mother dying. 

In 2004 CBS was condemned when it became the first broadcaster or publisher to show the ‘distasteful’ photo of Princess Diana taken moments after the 1997 car crash in Paris in which she died.

When the same photo later appeared in an Italian magazine, Prince William and Prince Harry issued a rare statement condemning it, saying they were ‘deeply saddened that such a low has been reached’.  

But Harry allowed CBS to make millions with the Sussexes’ Oprah Winfrey interview that was broadcast on March 7. 

Connection: The 63rd annual Grammy Awards aired on CBS - the same network that broadcast Oprah's explosive interview with Meghan and Harry

Connection: The 63rd annual Grammy Awards aired on CBS - the same network that broadcast Oprah's explosive interview with Meghan and Harry

Connection: The 63rd annual Grammy Awards aired on CBS – the same network that broadcast Oprah’s explosive interview with Meghan and Harry 

The broadcaster was unrepentant, saying the photo was ‘not gory’. No British publication has ever published it.

Royal biographer Hugo Vickers said: ‘It is quite embarrassing for Prince Harry. How could he possibly co-operate with an organisation which some years ago was the only outlet to publish a deeply distressing photo of his mother’s dying moment?

‘It is pretty hypocritical of him. I suppose he didn’t remember, or maybe he had no choice because of contracts signed? If he was still being advised by the Palace, they would have spotted this sort of thing a mile off.’

Former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter said: ‘The problem with American networks is that they are all about ratings, and advertising and bringing in money. It is not about decency.

‘In 2004 it was publishing a photograph which was in incredibly bad taste. In 2021 it is running a two-hour interview with Meghan and Harry. Both will have made it a lot of money.’ 

The fallout from the interview has been furious and widespread, particularly over the Sussexes’ claim that an unnamed royal raised concerns about their son Archie being ‘too brown’ – the most damaging allegation made during the sit-down. 

An impassioned Prince William publicly hit back against those racism claims on Thursday, insisting, ‘We’re very much not a racist family.’ 

The Duke of Cambridge was the first royal to personally respond to the allegation during his first royal engagement since the Oprah interview, as he also revealed that he has not spoken to his brother since it came out but ‘will do’. 

Buckingham Palace said in a statement issued on Tuesday that the issues raised, especially over race, were ‘concerning’ and would be addressed by the Queen and her family privately. 

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