Reporting Jenn McBride
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wrapped up their 48-hour whirlwind tour of Southern California Sunday afternoon at the Inner-City Arts school, where they painted with underprivileged children. Just two months after they walked down the maple tree-lined aisle of Westminster Abbey, the royal couple humbly descended upon Skid Row.
The sight of Prince William and his bride, Catherine, there – where as many as 8,000 homeless persons are estimated to live in a roughly four-square-mile area – was reminiscent of Princess Diana’s countless visits to leper colonies and orphanages.
Their packed itinerary also included a technology conference at the Beverly Hilton, a reception at the consul general’s residence in Hancock Park, a charity polo match in Carpinteria and a BAFTRA event in downtown Los Angeles.
At a time when Americans are becoming increasingly disenchanted with politicians — and celebrities can’t seem to stay out of jail — the royals are even more fascinating to us. In addition to offering our young country a sense of history and tradition, they are beautiful, compassionate, and shockingly ordinary. For most of us in news, their visit was a welcome respite from both tragedy and tabloid fodder.
I was fortunate to attend the Foundation Polo Match at the Santa Barbara Polo Club in Carpinteria on Saturday. When we arrived, I was pleased to see a sea of fascinators and hats, as my husband had feared my attempt to emulate the princess would be ill-received at a casual polo match. We got there early hoping to get good seats, but I ended up standing at the fence unabashedly cheering for Prince William as he scored an impressive four goals to win the entire match for his team. We were so close that it felt as if we were cheering a friend on at an intercollegiate sporting event. However, the military helicopters overhead, bomb-sniffing dogs and private security detail served as a constant reminder that we were, in fact, rooting for the future King of England.
It wasn’t until the trophy presentation that I was able to see Princess Catherine up close. Stunning as ever in her printed Jenny Packham dress and matching nude stilettos, she gracefully greeted each of the 12 athletes who made up all three competing teams. After she presented the trophy to her husband and his teammates, the royals were quickly whisked away from the crowd and loaded into a helicopter that was waiting to take them back down to Los Angeles.
While the event may have been perceived as stuffy by some, it reportedly raised as much as $5 million for the American Friends of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry. The princes established the charity earlier this year to raise funds for military members and their families, at-risk or disadvantaged children and environmental causes. Both the $400 club level tickets and the $4,000 VIP tickets were 100 percent tax deductible, with 90 percent of proceeds going to the princes’ charity and the other 10 percent going to the Polo Training Center Santa Barbara.
Watching the royal couple fly away, I couldn’t help but hope that the American people were as impacted by their gracefulness and charitable nature as they are enamored with the former Kate Middleton’s closet. We certainly don’t have a Will and Kate of our own, but I’m thankful the Brits let us borrow them for a few days.