ScanS → Evening Standard Newspaper Feature
Publication Date: November 1998
The pop star who swore at the Duchess of York in front of a global audience on live television was brought up to be a “well-mannered child who never got into trouble”, his mother said yesterday.
Ann Del Naja, whose son Robert is better known as 3D from the group Massive Attack, said she wondered if he had been plied with too much to drink and “was not really compos mentis” when he made his outburst.
Mrs Del Naja, of Sneyd Park, a quiet residential area of Bristol, shattered her foul-mouthed son’s street credibility by exposing him as a well-behaved boy who had enjoyed school and came from a comfortable family.
She said she was appalled by his language and would be telling him to amend his behaviour the next time they spoke on the telephone.
The incident occurred on Thursday night at the MTV awards in Milan when the Duchess presented Massive Attack with the Best Video award.
She offered her hand but the gesture was rejected and Del Naja announced: “Someone’s having a ******* laugh, **** you very much.”
The Duchess attempted to laugh off the matter but approached the band backstage and asked: “What’s all this about?” Del Naja, 32, retorted: “**** off.”
Asked later about his behaviour, the singer said: “What the **** has she got to do with music for a start? If somebody had told us that was happening, we would not be here at all. It’s just ******* ridiculous.”
He said the band would have preferred to have received its award — for the video to the song Teardrop — from someone more representative of youth culture.
But Del Naja’s mother said her son had been brought up to behave properly. “He was very well-mannered and never got into trouble,” she said. “He has never been to prison or anything ghastly like that. He was wonderful as a boy and quite happy at school. I suppose he was a bit rebellious as a teenager but then what teenager isn’t?
“I am very shocked that he should have done this. I can only wonder if they were plied with drink during the Ceremony and that by the time they went up to collect their award they were not really compos mentis.
“I understand from the record company that they were upset because their award was presented by the Duchess of York rather than one of their peers in the industry.
“Perhaps they thought that people were somehow making fun of them; but whatever the reason it was no excuse.”
Franco Del Naja, the singer’s father, said his son’s outburst might have been a publicity stunt to sell tickets for a forthcoming tour.
Mr Del Naja, 60, said: “This is not the way he was brought up and his mother is not very happy. I am very surprised by his behaviour.” The Duchess had agreed to take part in the awards ceremony at the personal invitation of Bill Roedy, president of MTV, who is a supporter of her charity work.
She attended with Con-stanza, the 12-year-old daughter of her close friend Count Gaddo della Gher-ardesca, and mingled backstage with Madonna, George Michael, Robbie Williams and members of All Saints and the Spice Girls.
A spokesman for MTV said Mr Roedy was “very upset”. He added: “MTV obviously regrets what happened, but we don’t have any control of what any individual artist says to another on stage.
“We are certainly very sorry if any offence was given to the Duchess. We were very happy to have her on the show.”
A friend of the Duchess said she had been taken aback by the band’s language but added: “I spoke to her this morning and she was very good natured about it.” Apart from the swearing incident, the Duchess had enjoyed a warm reception.
Written By Sean O’Neill