x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

From UK royalty to Hollywood royalty?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge head to the US this weekend after charming Canada.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a citizenship ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada on Friday. The royal couple head to Los Angeles on July 10.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a citizenship ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada on Friday. The royal couple head to Los Angeles on July 10.

The Beckhams' long-standing arrangement with the people of Los Angeles as their most famous, and most photographed, British guests is soon to be put to the ultimate test. Posh n'Becks may have indeed sat on giant golden thrones on their wedding day, but this week sees the arrival of genuine, married-in-Westminster-Abbey-with-the-Queen-in-the-front-row, royalty.

Wills and Kate, aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are set to touch down at LAX on Friday morning after a week in Canada, during which they have enthralled the masses by speaking a little bit in French, clapping and dancing along to a Canada Day concert and waving a lot. Their arrival in California kickstarts three days of frantic handshakings, photo opportunities, gala dinners and intense media scrutiny as to Kate's choice of frock. Polo matches and inner city school visits will help appease both extremes of the social spectrum, but the most talked-about entry on the royal schedule is Saturday night's black-tie event organised by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts at the Belasco Theater, dubbed the "Brits to Watch" dinner.

For a mere US$25,000 (Dh91,828) per table, studios, networks, talent agencies and video game companies (they were the only ones to receive invitations), have been given the exciting chance to mingle with 42 up-and-coming British names working in the entertainment industry, two of which will be sat at each table. Despite sounding like a rather expensive speed-dating-meets-business-networking event, albeit with a couple of well-known hosts, the dinner has proved to be a complete sell-out, with Universal, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and Disney all confirming that they have snapped up tables. Bafta sources have suggested that some have bought two tables (perhaps to reduce the chances of being stuck between two computer programmers).

Among the hand-picked list of rising British names on the list are Gareth Edwards, the writer/director whose low-budget sci-fi Monsters received critical acclaim last year, Jessica Brown-Findlay, the young actress who shot to stardom in the recent UK drama Downton Abbey, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the Rada-trained actress currently appearing in the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts comedy Larry Crowne, which opens in the UAE this weekend. Then there's Harry Lloyd, who starred in the HBO drama Game of Thrones and is set to play a young Denis Thatcher in the forthcoming Margaret Thatcher biopic, and Joe Cornish, one half of the comedy duo Adam and Joe, who has just released his debut feature Attack the Block.

British comedy fans might have noticed that Cornish, a 42-year-old whose TV career started some 15 years ago, isn't quite the young "up-and-coming" talent they might be expecting, but Bafta has been keen to note that those selected are "not complete beginners in their industry".

Given the worldwide adoration and celebrity status currently surrounding Will and Kate, it's no wonder they're quickly being deployed to help bolster British credibility overseas (they're also attending a meeting at the Beverley Hilton to promote "Tech City", London's version of Silicon Valley). The other royal option is the considerably less-sparkly character of Prince Andrew, the UK's special representative for international trade and investment and a man never far from controversy. He recently came under fire for supposedly close relationships with the ruling families of Tunisia, Libya and Kazakhstan.

Unless half of Britain's creative sector ups sticks and moves to Los Angeles overnight, it will probably be difficult to see the effects of the evening on the country's film, television and video game industries for a while. On an economical note, the cost of Will and Kate's North American adventure could well surpass the £3 million (Dh17.7m) reported annual budget of the UK Film Council, the body responsible for developing and promoting the country's film industry that was recently abolished by the UK government as part of a series of spending cuts.

In any case, what is almost absolutely certain is that Saturday night in the Belasco Theater will witness colossal levels of hobnobbing, schmoozing, "how do you do's", comments about quaint British accents and the passing of small rectangles of card. Wills might give a speech, hopefully without the same problems that afflicted his great-grandfather and that subsequently became the framework for the UK's recent Oscar-dominating success with The King's Speech. Kate might again wear something by a British designer and get the country's fashion bloggers fist-pumping the air in national pride. Perhaps the duchess will take to the dance floor with a Hollywood star and emulate William's mother, the late Princess Diana, who famously jigged with John Travolta in her 1985 US royal visit. Whatever happens, the newly wedded couple are likely to leave Los Angeles on July 10 firmly cemented as America's favourite Brits. Hopefully the Beckhams will not mind too much.