It's a strange day when the Court Circular collides with the world's most famous Scientologist.
Yet, there on Thursday night in London's famous Leicester Square, was not only the assembled cast of the new Top Gun movie, including Operating Thetan Level Eight Tom Cruise, but also William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Don't worry: this was not them off on some school night jolly, royal duty be damned! The unveiling of the long-awaited sequel was a Royal Film Performance, held in aid of The Film and TV Charity, an organisation that supports those working behind the scenes in the industry.
After making their way inside the Odeon Luxe theatre, there was one collective low moan of pleasure from the British press: the Cambridges look gooooooood. Not nicely turned out. Not pretty in the duchess' case. Not cheerily doing their bit.
Somehow the very same two people who for so long were the human embodiment of a beige mid-range wool sweater have become a sleek and sophisticated double act.
What we have seen emerge over the course of the last year especially is William and Kate 2.0, something that goes far beyond the duchess' new and improved wardrobes (thank the lord those blasted cork wedges have bitten the dust) and instead reflects the covert but considered campaign that has been going on as the couple transition to king and queen-in-waiting.
For Camp Cambridge, this repositioning of the couple from stale Middle England to dynamic activist duo is the product of years of hard work.
And for Camp Sussex, could this transformation have come at a worse time?
Two weeks from today, Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be back in the UK, along with their son Archie and baby daughter Lilibet, to help celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. The stakes have not been so high for someone stepping foot on British soil since William, Duke of Normandy landed in East Sussex.
It will of course be their first proper visit as a family since Harry and Meghan quit royal life in high dudgeon in January 2020 and having spent the intervening years telling the world that the Palace is a cruel and racist institution. (In April the couple made a flying overnight visit to see Her Majesty which Harry later claimed was so he could make sure that the 96-year-old has "right people around her" and is "protected".)
In a perfect example of timing being everything, right as the Cambridges stock is soaring, the Sussexes' is floundering and right now, the chasm-like gap between the two couples' lives is Grand Canyon-sized.
First, news broke on Thursday that the California-based couple have been filming something being termed an "at-home with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex-style docuseries", a project that sounds curiously just like a reality TV series. While neither the couple nor Netflix have confirmed the report, they have not denied it.
To be fair, this report was hardly that much of a shock given that cameras were seen following the Sussexes during their two high-profile trips to New York last year, however this docuseries still represents something of a new low in the post-Megxit annals. Never before have two such senior members of the Queen's family willingly let paying viewers inside their private lives in a dignity-defying move that surely can only be explained by the large sums of money attached to their 2020 Netflix deal.
Two years after moving to the West Coast with stars in their eyes, Harry and Meghan's life would not seem to be quite so dazzling and bright as everyone thought it might be. They have yet to establish themselves as leaders on their chosen issues, debut any content aside from her poorly reviewed (in the UK anyway) children's book and a one-off, half-hour podcast, or unveil any sort of charity initiative that moves the dial.
(The Me You Can't See, Harry's mental health Apple+ series, was announced in 2019, and was made with Oprah Winfrey.)
Even the former Suits star's attempts to wade into the political arena have been met with resistance. When she cold-called senators last to lobby for paid parental leave and used her royal title, it went down like a lead balloon. ("I was happy to talk with her. But I'm more interested in what the people of Maine are telling me about it," Senator Susan Collins later said, while Senator Shelley Moore Capito commented, "I couldn't figure out how she got my number.")
In short, they really haven't got many – if any – runs on the board.
Contrast that with the scene-stealing Cambridges.
William's forward-thinking and inherently optimistic $90 million-plus Earthshot Prize, which debuted last year, has earned him universal praise, while Kate's Early Years Foundation work has seen her emerge as a genuine expert in the field. (The idea is, if you intervene in the years between 0-5, years down the track it will pay significant dividends in improving mental health and addressing issues like addiction and homelessness.)
Sure, their Caribbean tour was something of a debacle given that no one on their team seemed to have worked out that this was a trip to a place where a) 2.3 million enslaved men and women were forcibly shipped from Africa to work on British-owned plantations, the with some of that ensuing wealth likely flowing into royal pockets, and b) was coming in the wake of Black Lives Matter.
That William and Kate went into this tour without having planned any meaningful conversations about the violent history of colonisation in this part of the world reflects how badly diversity and a plurality of voices is needed in the royal inner sanctum.
Still, to their credit, rather than foot-stomping and finger-pointing, they responded by putting out a highly unusual statement as they flew home admitting "Foreign tours are an opportunity to reflect. You learn so much."
More recently, William has emerged as just the sort of hug-doling-out HRH that the public wants. In Scotland last week, he was tearfully embraced by a pensioner who used to be homeless. Then he visited the home of journalist Deborah James to personally present her with her Damehood for raising more than $10 million for cancer research, before then sitting in the sunshine with her family and enjoying a glass of champagne.
When it was announced that the Queen's "episodic mobility problems" would prevent her from attending the State Opening of Parliament, William was one-half of the princely duo deputised in her place, doing his darnedest to not overshadow his dear old dad.
Videos from inside the Top Gun premiere showed the hundreds of assembled VIPs in the audience eagerly filming the royal couple with their phones as a brass band played God Save the Queen. You couldn't have got more regal if Her Majesty had let Kate borrow a sceptre and orb to accessorise her Roland Mouret form-fitting frock.
In short, the Cambridges are riding high right now, and that is before we get to see the superstar family front and centre during the Jubilee celebrations, which will likely buoy their popularity further.
It is hard not to wonder how it must feel for the Sussexes to make the trip back to the UK, not as Hollywood, Wall Street and Silicon Valley-conquering heroes – self-made titans with a string of successes under their Loro Piana belts – but as the world's most titled reality TV stars in the making.
One of the factors that reportedly contributed to the decision to fly the royal coop was that Harry and Meghan resented constantly being forced to accept third place in the royal pecking order, behind Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and the Cambridges.
As the royal couple who attracted the biggest and loudest crowds, the Sussexes - so this argument went - were allegedly sick of having to hide their megawatt light under a bushel.
Freed of the Palace's oversight, every sign pointed to the frenzy-inducing duo being poised for world domination.
This has yet to come even remotely to pass.
Whether it is that their inability to brand themselves as royal, that the world has changed in the last two years or that they now have to rely on paid Hollywood flacks and staffers - rather than seasoned Palace aides - the grand future that world imagined for the Sussexes in early 2020 has failed to materialise.
Instead we've had transparent PR stunts (like staging their own Remembrance Day outing in November 2020) and so many business announcements I think I've forgotten a few.
(We've had, in no particular order, Meghan's investment in a vegan latte business, Harry becoming the Chief Impact Officer for a coaching platform called BetterUp, both of them becoming "impact partners" with Ethic, a fintech asset manager, their short-lived speaking career and Harry signing a reported $27 million publishing deal with Penguin Random House.)
When it comes to the Sussexes, it's all just sound and media releases signifying ... nothing. (So far anyway.)
There is one thing at which they are an unequivocally world-class act, be it on purpose or accidentally – creating drama. With final preparations for the four-day Jubilee celebrations beginning, one thing that seems certain: with both the Cambridges and the Sussexes involved, this is going to be quite a show.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.