British royals sparkle at US polo match

9th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Prince William and his wife Catherine wowed spectators at a charity polo match on Saturday, the second day of a star-studded California trip aimed at promoting British talent in Hollywood.

Dressed in a silver and marble grey dress by Jenny Packham, the Duchess of Cambridge smiled for cameras at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club, where her husband -- in white trousers and a blue blazer -- was the star player.

"They're great role models for young people, they're elegant and great ambassadors for their country," said Santa Barbara resident Victoria Hines, 65, dressed up for the exclusive event an hour north of Los Angeles.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- as they have been since marrying in London in April -- arrived in Los Angeles on Friday for the weekend trip following a nine-day tour of Canada.

On Friday night they met stars including footballer David Beckham and British writer and broadcaster Stephen Fry at the British consul-general's residence in LA, where they are staying until Sunday.

"Entirely charming evening at the British Consulate here in LA. The Cambridges dazzled everyone," Fry wrote on Twitter after the event.

On Saturday they flew up the Pacific coast by helicopter for the charity polo match in aid of the American Friends of The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry.

Security was tight at the prestigious polo ground, where sniffer dogs were checking spectators who began arriving from early morning for the afternoon game, as helicopters clattered overhead.

The 29-year-old prince, second in line to the British throne after his father Prince Charles, was to demonstrate his horsemanship while Catherine was to present the prize to the winning players.

Tickets for the one-off event have been fetching thousands of dollars, and spectators were hoping to get their money's worth, whether or not William wins -- or takes a tumble.

But the prince, who follows in his father's and grandfather's footsteps in playing polo, may have to watch out for a more aggressive American approach to a sport perceived as upper class in Britain.

"There's huge differences," said Ebe Sievwright, a player and coach with the California Polo Club who is also a British-born actor who says he has played with William.

"Polo in England is very Argentine influenced, and in America there is a great history of cowboys and riding from their own history out in the Wild West," he told CNN.

Whatever the outcome on the polo field, the couple will have to pick themselves up late Saturday for a black-tie dinner hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in downtown Los Angeles.

William is BAFTA's president, and the aim of the event will be to give up-and-coming British actors a chance to meet Hollywood movers and shakers.

Officially, the Californian mini-tour will aim to "contribute to deepening and strengthening the multi-layered links between the United States and the United Kingdom," according to a British official briefing.

Unofficially, all eyes are on who they will meet during the barely 48-hour stay in California -- including at Saturday night's BAFTA event, expected to be attended by top Hollywood talent including Tom Hanks and Nicole Kidman.

On Sunday, they visit "Skid Row" in downtown to visit the Inner-City Arts school, a nonprofit academy that provides free classes in visual and performing arts to children from poor neighborhoods.

Later Sunday they attend a job fair for military veterans at Sony Studios in Culver City, before leaving Los Angeles to return to the United Kingdom after their 12-day north American trip.

© 2011 AFP

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