Prince William, Kate hobnob with L.A. stars
Royal newlyweds mingle with Hollywood A-listers during Southern California tour
Prince William, with his new wife watching, starred Saturday in a charity polo match before the couple attended a soiree to meet with Hollywood's elite in Southern California.
William scored four goals as his team went on to win the overall match, before the prince and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, spent an evening mingling with stars at a black-tie dinner that drew the likes of Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez and Jack Black, among others.
Saturday's evening at the Belasco Theatre in downtown Los Angeles was organized by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Earlier in the day, a crowd of polo spectators at the sun-splashed Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club rushed onto the field following the match, despite an announcer's pleas for them to return their seats. Security finally used a line of rope to push them back.
After stragglers were pushed back and decorum was restored, Kate presented each competitor a blue Tiffany & Co. box with a white ribbon, and a big silver trophy to her husband's team.
The last player to the podium was William. When the crowd yelled, "Kiss!," she obliged and gave him a slight embrace and a kiss on each cheek.
The return of the couple to the field restored the atmosphere. After the crowd's rush, a fight nearly erupted when a photographer was pushed over a barrier by a spectator struggling to catch a glimpse of the royals and landed hard on his camera. Security escorted away the spectator, but some in the crowd booed as a few photographers were allowed closer to the podium.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived by helicopter in Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, joining hundreds of well-heeled royal watchers who had travelled long distances — and paid big sums — to see them.
"My father, the Prince of Wales, and my brother, Harry, were as green as that grass outside when I told them I'd be here today," William told a reception where guests sipped champagne and whiskey. "Catherine and I have had a busy few days, so the prospect of being able to let loose this afternoon is wonderful for me."
Both Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, regularly play polo during the summer months. Their love for the sport comes from their father, Prince Charles, who played polo for 40 years before stopping in 2005. Prince Charles broke his right arm during a fall from his horse during a 1990 match, among several polo-related injuries.
The prince wore a white shirt and trousers with a blue blazer while his wife sported a silver and marble-grey hand-painted silk dress by British designer Jenny Packham.
The cheap seats cost $400, while anyone paying $4,000 for a VIP ticket got a chance to hobnob with William and his bride.
First foreign excursion
The royal newlyweds arrived under sunny skies Friday after a nine-day trip to Canada, their first foreign excursion since getting married in April.
With a full schedule and tight security, there are no planned walkabouts in California, and the crowds are not as large as those that greeted the couple in Canada. But that didn't deter small groups of royal watchers from waiting outside the police roadblocks hoping to catch a glimpse.
Inside, at a technology summit aimed at promoting U.S. investment in British tech firms, the slightest smile or move by Kate would set photographers' cameras snapping.
"They were delightful company," said Neil Stiles, president of Variety, which organized the Friday event. "They were relaxed, very comfortable in the environment."
Several news vans and bystanders were positioned across the street Friday from the British consul general's home, which was blocked off by the Los Angeles Police Department, hoping for a peek at the couple. Among the celebrities seen chatting at a reception for the couple were David Beckham and British humorist Stephen Fry.
Black-tie dinner attracts Hollywood elite
The black-tie dinner at the historic Belasco Theatre in downtown L.A. later in the evening was in support of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. There, the couple met with emerging British actors, and William urged Hollywood to embrace the new wave of British talent.
"Please give them the opportunities you have always extended to some of the brightest and best that Britain has to offer," he said. "When Americans and British creative talent gets together, magic happens."
Matt Donnelly, a reporter who covers celebrities and parties for the Los Angeles Times, says Saturday night's party was a big deal, even by Hollywood standards.
"These are global celebrities, so it's a little bit of a fever right now," he said.
The goal is to showcase 42 young British filmmakers.
On Sunday, the royal couple will watch a dance at a nonprofit academy in the gritty Skid Row area of downtown, then attend a job fair for U.S. servicemen and women transitioning to civilian life.
With files from The Associated Press