Hollywood gets ready to welcome royal couple for tightly scripted weekend
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - They've been roundly cheered but occasionally jeered on their first foreign trip since they were married. But will Britain's Prince William and the former Kate Middleton now be revered when they arrive in Tinseltown?
There may not be time.
Following a nine-day visit to Canada, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are flying south Friday to spend a tightly scripted weekend in Los Angeles that is more business than pleasure and will leave little opportunity for the city's commoners to either jeer or revere.
Trips to the beach, Disneyland or Universal Studios are off the royal agenda as the couple instead focuses on charitable work, promoting British interests in the U.S. and a game of polo near Santa Barbara.
Though Prince William has been to America before, it's Kate's first trip here. William's late mother, Princess Diana, who would have turned 50 this month, charmed Americans when she visited in the 1980s.
The newlyweds will arrive after meeting with enthusiastic crowds as they crisscrossed Canada. French-speaking separatists in Quebec, however, predictably jeered them on their visit to the city.
The royal couple is due to touchdown Friday afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport and will be welcomed by California Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife.
From there, it's off to meet with venture capitalists, industry leaders and philanthropists, followed by a reception at the home of the British consul-general in Hancock Park, where they will be staying.
Authorities have put the paparazzi, known for their cutthroat tactics in pursuing shots of the region's many celebrities, on notice that aggressive actions will not be tolerated.
"We ask that the paparazzi be respectful and dignified," Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Michael Downing said. "And we will be respectful and dignified to the paparazzi."
Security for the visit is being co-ordinated between the Los Angeles Police Department, the U.S. State Department and other agencies. It's not quite on a par with a visit from the president, but it's close, Downing said.
"It is a very important event for Los Angeles," he said. "It is really an honour to have the royal couple in Los Angeles, and we want to make sure they have a good impression."
On Saturday, the couple will travel along the scenic Pacific coast from Los Angeles to the posh Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. For the price of a $4,000 ticket, the well-heeled can schmooze briefly with the prince and princess and watch Prince William lead his fellow polo players into competition, then see Kate present the trophy to the winning team.
Those who can't afford to shell out $4,000 to chow down with the royal couple can purchase a $400 ticket that will get them admission to the grandstand, a box lunch and a souvenir program. Proceeds will go to charity.
On Saturday evening, the duke and duchess will walk the red carpet at the historic Belasco Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, where they will be guests of honour at a British Academy of Film and Television Arts dinner honouring 42 young British filmmakers.
On Sunday, the duke and duchess will be taking in a less glamorous slice of Los Angeles, namely the Skid Row area downtown, where they will watch a dance at a non-profit academy that gives children from poverty-stricken neighbourhoods free classes in visual and performing arts.
After attending a job fair for U.S. servicemen and women transitioning to civilian life, the couple will fly out of Los Angeles midafternoon on Sunday.
Although there won't be many opportunities to glimpse William and Kate, anglophiles are planning to gather by the hundreds to celebrate the visit at Ye Olde King's Head, a popular British restaurant and pub in Santa Monica.
"We're hoping they might swing by and have a pint with us," joked manager Lisa Powers. "You never know, they might. They won't be that far away."
Associated Press writer John Rogers contributed to this report.