News flash: royals slip off to US

Prince William and his new bride Catherine are in Los Angeles for a weekend of Hollywood glamour and Californian sun, after a nine-day tour of Canada.

The 29-year-old is also due to play polo in Santa Barbara and visit an inner-city Skid Row project in downtown Los Angeles during the three-day stay, Catherine's first trip to the United States.

The couple were greeted by California Governor Jerry Brown after flying from Calgary, where they ended their Canadian tour.

Catherine clutched a bouquet as she and William chatted to dignitaries, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the British ambassador to the US, Sir Nigel Sheinwald.

They attended a hi-tech investment forum in Beverly Hills before heading to the British consul-general's house for an open-air evening reception around a pool, attended by David Beckham and Stephen Fry.

In the first sign of the US public fascination with the young royals, crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of them as they arrived at the residence in upscale Hancock Park, where they will stay for the weekend.

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 Los Angeles, which will include an evening promoting British film talent in Hollywood.

Today they head up the coast for the charity polo match at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club, in aid of the American Friends of The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry.

Catherine, also 29, will present a prize to the winning team.

In the evening, they will attend a black-tie dinner hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), of which William is president.

Tomorrow they will visit "Skid Row" in downtown to visit the Inner-City Arts school, a non-profit academy that provides free classes in visual and performing arts to children from poor neighbourhoods.

Later they will 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.

- AFP

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