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The Duke and Duchess of California: William and Kate in L.A.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have swept through Canada where tens of thousands of people turned out to greet them, but will they be quite such a hit in Hollywood?
A weekend in southern California seems as if it was almost tagged on to the end of their first royal visit since the wedding, but they’re packing in the meeting and greeting, the sightseeing and the speeches.
There’s the ubiquitous red carpet event in Los Angeles to dine with the great and the good of Hollywood, a polo match up the coast, and a visit to the notorious downtown slum, Skid Row.
But judging from L.A. local radio, people are more concerned about what impact their visit to the city will have on traffic.
DJs John and Ken on KFI AM host the nation’s most-listened to local talk radio show and were groaning at the thought of the royal couple making a trip across town from the airport to a star-studded reception on a Friday afternoon in rush hour.
“Why does anyone care?” they asked, adding “What would you say to them if you met them anyway?”
“You only speak to them if they speak to you first,” one of the presenters chipped in, and it seems royal airs and graces — the very idea of royalty — has a lot to do with their attraction here.
Most of those we stopped and asked on L.A.’s high-end west side Melrose Avenue were pleased the royal couple was stopping off in southern California — almost all knew about the trip well in advance.
“Everyone here loved the wedding” was a popular sentiment, but as to why the Duke and Duchess are so attractive in a city of superstars, the word “Camelot” came up a lot.
“We don’t have anything like them, so I think that’s got a lot to do with it,” one passer-by told me.
“It’s a real life fairytale,” another offered. The romance and the glamour clearly has a great deal to do with it, in a city well-known for manufacturing its own romance and glamour.
Even in Hollywood the hottest ticket in town this weekend will be a dinner hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
Night of the Round Tables
The UK newspapers have been critical of the $25,000 being charged per table, which the big studios have been snapping up.
The critics say it’s cashing in on the royal family. But those in Hollywood think it’s a bargain, and they would have paid double.
Red carpets and movie stars are a must for the newlyweds, but there’s also a business side to the visit, and BAFTA, of which Prince William is president, sees this as a great opportunity.
Every table at the gala dinner will have two seats set aside — for a small and select group of the best emerging British talent.
Writers, directors, actors, animators, and composers who are on the fringes but still haven’t made it big in Hollywood will get the chance of a lifetime to sit next to people who can transform their careers.
While commenting on Kate Middleton‘s dress they can small-talk with the checkbook owners and big-up their own projects. It’s a golden ticket.
“Stars love stars — the whole world loves this romantic couple, so it’s been built up into a huge event,” said Jeanne Wolf, a Hollywood blogger and diva.
“Everybody is excited about it,” she adds. “Americans like to pretend they are not fazed by royalty, but of course they are. They are young and they are beautiful.”
British businesses are also getting in on the act with a royal reception — a way to leverage some star power.
Kingdom for a Horse?
It’s a hectic schedule, but an afternoon of polo in Santa Barbara will see Prince William in action.
It’ll be a very colorful event, but it will have the media running around in circles, especially with tight security and without a helicopter to cover the long distances.
And covering a polo match with a guest appearance from Britain’s future king involves some careful planning if the unthinkable were to happen: William taking a tumble from his horse.
Cameras will no doubt be following the Duke’s every move — and eagerly focusing on the face of the Duchess, just in case.
BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead is covering the Duke and Duchess’s trip to California for Anglophenia.