William and Kate take in polo, Hollywood celebs

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Prince William played well enough in a charity polo match Saturday to earn public kisses from his wife and then mingled with a dazzling array of Hollywood royalty eager to meet the newlyweds on their visit to Southern California.

At the midpoint of their tour, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed a crowd at a sun-splashed polo field and then swung to the glamour of a black-tie evening event that drew Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand, Blake Lively and Jennifer Lopez, among many others.

The soiree at the restored 1920s-era Belasco Theatre in downtown Los Angeles was organized by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, of which William is president, to promote up-and-coming British talent in the industry.

William’s wife, the former Kate Middleton, wore a flowing lilac dress with white waistband by Alexander McQueen. Fans cheered as they strode a red carpet and the couple responded by walking over and shaking a few hands.

“Before I start, I’d just like to thank Colin Firth for my opening line: I have a voice,” William quipped in brief remarks to the star-studded audience, referring to Firth’s role as King George VI in the acclaimed film “The King’s Speech.”

William also urged Hollywood to embrace the new wave of British talent.

“Please give them the opportunities you have always extended to some of the brightest and best that Britain has to offer,” he said. “When American and British creative talent gets together, magic happens.”

The guests included executives of major studios and entertainment companies along with such luminaries as James Gandolfini, Don Cheadle, Dana Delaney, Jack Black and Kristin Chenoweth.

The day’s royal events began up the coast at Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, where William scored four goals as his team went on to win the overall polo match. The crowd at the sun-splashed Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club rushed onto the field despite an announcer’s pleas for them to return their seats, and finally security used a line of rope to push them back.

After stragglers were pushed back and decorum was restored, William’s wife, the former Kate Middleton, presented each competitor a blue Tiffany & Co. box with a white ribbon, and a big silver trophy to her husband’s team.

The last player to the podium was William. When the crowd yelled, “Kiss!,” she obliged and gave him a slight embrace and a kiss on each cheek.

The return of the couple to the field restored the atmosphere. After the crowd’s rush, a fight nearly erupted when a photographer was pushed over a barrier by a spectator struggling to catch a glimpse of the royals and landed hard on his camera. Security escorted away the spectator, but some in the crowd booed as a few photographers were allowed closer to the podium.

The couple arrived by helicopter in Carpinteria, joining hundreds of well-heeled royal watchers who’d traveled long distances _ and paid big sums _ to see them.

“My father, the Prince of Wales, and my brother, Harry, were as green as that grass outside when I told them I’d be here today,” William told a reception where guests sipped champagne and whiskey. “Catherine and I have had a busy few days _ so the prospect of being able to let loose this afternoon is wonderful for me.”

William wore a white shirt and trousers with a blue blazer while his wife sported a silver and marble-gray hand-painted silk dress by British designer Jenny Packham.

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