- Associated Press - Saturday, July 9, 2011

CARPINTERIA, CALIF. (AP) - Prince William, with his new wife watching, starred Saturday in a charity polo match that brought the crowd pouring onto the field in the most spontaneous moment of the couple’s visit to Southern California so far.

William scored four goals as his team went on to win the overall 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 Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived by helicopter in Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, 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.

The cheap seats cost $400, while anyone paying $4,000 for a VIP ticket got a chance to hobnob with William and his bride.

Carolyn Sesvold flew in from Chicago to attend the match, buying a brown-and-white polka-dotted dress, hat and gloves inspired by the outfit Julia Roberts wore to the polo match in the movie “Pretty Woman.”

Sesvold, a royals fan, also came to watch a family friend who paid about $50,000 to play against William in the polo game. Those playing on the same team as the duke paid twice that, she said.

Cheryl Reyes, who works in an office in Orange County, bought her $400 ticket as soon as she heard the royal couple would be coming to Santa Barbara. Standing across the field nibbling on a sandwich and drinking a flute of juice, she worried about whether she’d be able to see the duchess.

“I wanted to see Princess Catherine,” she said. “There’s just something magical about being a commoner and ending with a prince. She’s the one I want to see.”

Both Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, regularly play polo during the summer months. Their love for the sport comes from their father, Prince Charles, who played polo for 40 years before stopping in 2005. Prince Charles broke his right arm during a fall from his horse during a 1990 match, among several polo-related injuries.

Actress Rosario Dawson complimented Kate’s fashion sense, calling her style effortless and elegant.

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