LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prince William and his new wife, Kate, make their debut on the world’s largest celebrity stage on Friday with a brief California visit that combines the glitz of Hollywood with the grit of Skid Row in Los Angeles.
In a town stuffed with A-list stars, William and Kate already shine the brightest and their three-day trip to Los Angeles has sent celebrity media into a frenzy.
“We have never had a royal couple that have so much celebrity as these two. American girls are obsessed with Kate Middleton -- what she wears, what she does and the fact she was an ordinary girl who managed to bag a prince,” said Melissa Bromley, West Coast bureau chief of Us Weekly magazine.
Searches on Yahoo! for the royal newlyweds are up 354 percent this week, fueled by their much photographed first overseas visit to Canada, the online search engine said.
But with Britain in the middle of an austerity drive, William and Kate will keep a lid on the celebrity side of the U.S. visit while elevating the charity work.
“If they came to Hollywood and had dinner with Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise and hung out with David and Victoria Beckham and then went shoe shopping, that is definitely something they would be criticized for,” Bromley told Reuters.
That royal restraint, however, hasn’t stopped Los Angeles entertainment news outlets from airing special royal features three days ahead of their Friday arrival in Los Angeles.
And the California tourist board capitalized on the visit to run promotions for the state’s castles, and other tourist attractions, that are “fit for a king.”
The new Duchess of Cambridge may be making her debut on the world stage, and her first ever visit to the United States. But veteran British royal watcher Andrew Morton, says Kate has taken to her new role “like a swan to water.”
“However nervous she may feel, she disguises it. In Hollywood it will be interesting to see how this fresh-faced English rose compares against the Botox and the breast implants,” said Morton, publisher of The Morton Report (www.themortonreport.com)
Morton sees the California trip primarily as “a chance for William and Catherine to pass around the begging bowl for their charities.”
In contrast to the flag-waving crowds and walkabouts in Canada, a Saturday charity polo match in the coastal town of Santa Barbara is expected to be the best chance for royal fans in California to get a look at the pair.
“There will be far more closed events. I suspect Angelenos will have very little opportunity to mingle with the royals unless they have paid a hefty check,” said Morton, author of “Catherine and William: Their Story.”
The only star-heavy event in a schedule that includes a visit to a Los Angeles kids’ inner city arts project in the gritty Skid Row district, a meeting with military families and a new media trade panel, is a black tie, $25,000 per table dinner organized by the British Academy for Film and Television (BAFTA) of which William is president.
The BAFTA gala on Saturday will bring 42 young, British, emerging actors, directors, writers and videogame designers together with Hollywood studio executives.
“The goal is not to meet celebrities. The goal is to connect young British talent with Hollywood decision-makers,” the couple’s private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton said when the event was announced.
But organizers say there will also be a celebrity red carpet on the night and the guest list featuring “hot young things to (Hollywood) legends.” Tom Hanks and Nicole Kidman are reported to be among those with an invitation.
That is music to the ears of American celebrity magazines. “A picture of Brad (Pitt), Angelina (Jolie), William and Kate having dinner together would be my dream celebrity scenario -- a perfect juncture between royalty and celebrity,” said Bromley.
Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman