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Royal couple at last event on California tour

Prince William and Kate wrapped up their trip to Southern California on Sunday by visiting an inner-city school in downtown Los Angeles's notorious Skid Row area and attending a job fair for military veterans.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Prince William and Kate wrapped up their trip to Southern California on Sunday by visiting an inner-city school in downtown Los Angeles's notorious Skid Row area and attending a job fair for military veterans.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted at the Inner City Arts academy by six elementary school-aged children holding a welcome banner while a crowd of about 150 people cheered and looked on, some waving British and American flags.

The former Kate Middleton wore a navy-and-white crochet top and a white pleated skirt, both by U.K. fashion company Whistles.

Cynthia Harnisch, the academy's president and chief executive officer, spoke to the couple about Skid Row and the challenges of poverty and homelessness faced by many students at the school.

The duke and duchess were then escorted to a visual arts studio where they donned art smocks and sat at easels to paint.

A group of teenage dancers then performed for the couple, who appeared to enjoy the show.

Fifteen-year-old Iliana Samaniego, who was in the troupe, said she was thrilled when William gave a double thumbs up and told them "brilliant" at the end of the performance.

"Just seeing the smile on Catherine, it was great," said Samaniego, one of the 16 dancers.

Skid Row, with its intractable poverty and large homeless population, could hardly stand in starker contrast to the more glitzy parts of Southern California that the couple has seen on their whirlwind visit.

On Saturday, William wowed the crowd with four goals at his charity polo match then he and his bride headed by helicopter to downtown Los Angeles for a black-tie film industry event that drew Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand, Jack Black and Jennifer Lopez, among others.

Saturday night's 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.

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 William's great-grandfather, King George VI, in the acclaimed film "The King's Speech."

The guests included executives of major studios and entertainment companies along with such luminaries as James Gandolfini, Don Cheadle, Blake Lively and Kristin Chenoweth.

They began Sunday by attending a swanky reception to raise money for Tusk Trust, an African wildlife conservation group.

Their final stop before departing for the U.K. was with the group ServiceNation: Mission Serve, which helps veterans find jobs.

Inside the event's venue, Studio 15 on the Sony Pictures Studio lot in Culver City, giant U.S. and British flags hung behind a stage where the smiling duke addressed a cheering crowd.

"All the companies and employers taking part today are providing opportunities which mean something very immediate and personal to us," said William, a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot. "Catherine and I both have friends back in Britain who could benefit from a brilliant initiative like this."

The soundstage hosted a job fair for military veterans, with employers such as Mattel, Walmart and entertainment industry companies such as Warner Bros. and CBS manning booths. The companies must have jobs in order to participate in the fair, said Ross Cohen, Mission Serve's director.

Cohen, who served in Afghanistan and was an army paratrooper, said events such as the job fair were crucial for returning veterans. Unemployment rates for young vets and their spouses are as high as 25 percent, Cohen said.

Kelly York, a 23-year Air Force veteran, came to the fair hoping to find a job that will allow her to remain in the Los Angeles area when she retires early next year.

"I'm sure that they had 50 million places they could go and see," York said. "The fact that they even take five minutes to stop here and say something to the veterans, that's huge."

After speaking with some veterans, the duke and duchess helped prepare care packages for children of deployed service members before heading to the airport to leave Los Angeles.


Associated Press writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.


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