British royals given Hollywood star treatment

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Prince William and his wife Catherine outshone even Hollywood's brightest stars Saturday, as Britain's future king lobbied for up-and-coming British actors in the home of the US film industry.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given the full red carpet treatment in Los Angeles -- and generated more excitement than A listers including Tom Hanks and Nicole Kidman attending the star-studded event.

Hundreds of fans gathered outside the Belasco Theater in downtown LA, cheering as the usual celebrities arrived for the red carpet entry -- but screaming the place down when William and Catherine arrived.

"They're not just actors, their position is so much greater," said LA local Sarah Pijuan, 28, after meeting the British royal couple who stopped to shake hands and talk to some of the fans.

The couple, on the last night of a 12-day trip to Canada and California before flying home Sunday, used the event to lobby for 42 lucky young British actors invited to network with some of Hollywood's top talent.

William is president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), which hosted the black-tie dinner.

Earlier in the day they had wowed the crowds at a charity polo match in Santa Barbara, an hour north of Los Angeles up the Pacific coast -- especially after the prince's team won the afternoon's tournament.

Tickets for the one-off event went for $400 dollars -- $4,000 for the privilege of lunching with the royal couple before the on-field action.

The 29-year-old future king drew whoops of approval when he took the field under a blazing West Coast sun at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club, as Catherine watched admiringly from the stands.

"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.

Catherine's clothes have also impressed -- she reportedly brought 40 outfits for the 12-day trip. On Saturday she was in a silver and marble grey dress by Jenny Packham to the polo, and a light blue dress to the evening BAFTA event.

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.

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 have been on who they meet -- after David Beckham and British writer-broadcaster Stepehen Fry on Friday, Saturday's celebrity crop included Jennifer Lopez and Jack Black.

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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