British Invasion

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Official California Visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge landed in California on Friday. See pictures.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have barely been in Los Angeles for 48 hours, and they’ve already rubbed elbows with Hollywood agents, played polo, flown up the California coastline, and met stars including Jennifer Lopez and Harvey Weinstein. What’s left there to do in L.A.?

Theirs has certainly been a whirlwind visit. It came to a head on Saturday night, when the Duke and Duchess attended a black-tie gala for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), which honored 42 “Brits to Watch”—emerging talents across entertainment—in downtown Los Angeles.

Hundreds of fans in Union Jack t-shirts and face paint lined the barricaded blocks of downtown Los Angeles to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. The Duke and Duchess finally arrived in a long LAPD motorcade, a shocking nine minutes behind schedule. Middleton, dressed in a floor-length lavender dress by Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo sandals, and earrings reportedly borrowed from the Queen, alighted from their blue Range Rover to shrieking fans. Greeted by an entourage of security and handlers, the pair swept down the red carpet (breezing past the video cameras and press teams) and bee-lined straight to twenty lucky fans stationed in front of the theatre. The royals spent a few minutes shaking hands until they were whisked inside.

For Houston-native Solome Williams, 21, who met both the Duke and Duchess, it was a night to remember. “Kate apologized for being late,” she recounted. “She joked that William was busy fixing his hair.” A few spots down the barricade, Katie Symes, a 22-year-old from Pasadena, was “DYING” because Kate told her she liked her chandelier earrings. “I probably won’t wear any other earrings ever again,” she said.

Earlier in the day, the couple took a chopper to Santa Barbara to participate in the Foundation Polo Cup. There were multiple matches throughout the day, and the Duchess sat front-row center in a floral Jenny Packham dress. Though Oprah was rumored to be making an appearance, the guest list was considerably more B-list—it included Zoe Saldana and Rob Lowe. Tickets sold for $4,000 a pop, which included access to a VIP tent and a luncheon catered by Giada De Laurentiis. (The $400 tickets got you only a boxed lunch).

The couple arrived in Los Angeles just after 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, aboard Canadian Air Force A310. They were greeted at Los Angeles International Airport in 90-degree heat by Governor Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragaiosa.

First stop was, somewhat appropriately, straight into the eye of the storm: the Beverly Hilton—a sprawling hotel in Beverly Hills where the Golden Globes take place. They attended Variety’s Venture Capital and New Media Summit, where venture capitalists, new-media guys, and a handful of Hollywood agents convened to talk about technological innovation in the entertainment industry.

A security sweep two hours before the couple was set to arrive locked down the Hilton, and bathroom access was closed off at 3 p.m. Police were everywhere—dragging around overheated German shepherds. Will and Kate arrived on premises—passing through clusters of tourists in the lobby—and were escorted into a green room, where they were greeted by a reception of 20 people. “This makes a presidential visit look like Grandma’s coming over!” one onlooker said.

Shortly after producer Brett Ratner and 22-year-old Dancing With the Stars Chelsea Kane left the stage, a panel of British entrepreneurs began to discuss Tech City, London’s answer to Silicon Valley. At 5 p.m., the panel stopped to “welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the stage.” The crowd rose, and amid total silence—aside from the relentless snapping from the pool of photographers—Will and Kate took the stage, each taking a seat on a plush couch. The audience sat back down, and then, inexplicably, the panel kept going as if nothing had changed. “Google has done a great job with Google+,” one panelist said nervously. The Duke and Duchess just sat there, smiling, staring out at the crowd. Finally, one panelist acknowledged the royals onstage. “Enough talk about autocratic leadership,” he said. “We have a future queen on the panel!” Everyone let out a deep breath at once. Following the event, the Duke and Duchess met with entrepreneurs in the ballroom, receiving brief tech demonstrations and posing for pictures.

On Friday evening, they attended a private dinner at the British consulate, where they met Victoria and David Beckham. The Duchess looked as radiant as ever in a jewel-green belted dress by Diane von Furstenberg. "I love seeing it," the designer said in an e-mail to The Daily Beast. "[The Duchess] is cool, smart, and beautiful. She represents all DVF is about: she is the woman she wants to be!" As American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told The Daily Beast: “She smiled, and literally it lit up the entire garden. I told her I would be escorting her, but there wasn’t time for small talk!”

On Sunday, the couple will visit the Inner-City Arts Academy, a nonprofit that gives underprivileged children classes in the performing arts.