Among the many show-stopping moments-big and small-the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge packed into just 48 hours in Los Angeles, perhaps the most disarming was when Prince William, shown a demo of a new technology that allows users to buy clothes sported by TV characters from shows like Gossip Girl, looked at his wife and nervously joked to an onlooker at Variety‘s Venture Capital & New Media Summit, “I’m sending you the bill.” (Kate’s response? “Well, everything you want to buy on TV is a helicopter or fancy car!”) Or maybe it was when Kate, at a nonprofit arts center, gave her husband a gentle pat on the rear. Or perhaps it was when a roomful of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters anxiously jockeyed for an audience with the royal couple. “It was the first time I’ve seen major stars becoming like little schoolkids, going, ‘Um, when would it be a good time to say hello?'” says Owain Yeoman, who stars on the CBS drama The Mentalist and was honored at a British Academy of Film and Television Arts event July 9. “The surreal-o-meter was pretty high.”
Indeed, when the hottest royals on the planet hit the world’s starriest city, the result was a fusion of off-the-charts glamour and surprisingly intimate moments that awed even a town full of A-listers. But as they did throughout the first part of their tour, in Canada, the couple displayed an uncanny gift for making everyone feel like a VIP. There was Kate, complimenting a grade-schooler on her British accent (“It’s better than mine!”) at the Inner-City Arts center. And William, impressing Esker Nolen, 48, an unemployed bus detailer who is now homeless on L.A.’s Skid Row. “This place is the lowest of the low,” says Nolen. “Of all the places the duke could go, he comes here. And that shows he’s got a heart for people.”
The 29-year-old newlyweds also made what was a business trip look like a second honeymoon, and the potent chemistry between the two was in full view. “There’s an intimacy in how they look for each other,” says Danielle Alexandra of Centrepoint, a facility for homeless youth. Adds Universal Pictures cochairman Donna Langley: “You get the sense you are in the presence of a young couple on a great adventure together.”
And a couple determined to chart a new, contemporary course for the royal family: no curtsies, no receiving lines, first names just fine, thanks. “They were warm and nurturing,” says Cynthia Harnisch, president and CEO of Inner-City Arts. Of course, it’s Kate-only 11 weeks into her royal tenure-who proved the true toast of the town. “She is so full of natural charisma,” says So You Think You Can Dance executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Yet for all her poise and posture (common refrain: “She’s so tall!”), the future queen of England proved herself endearingly down-to-earth. “She said, ‘My hair just keeps getting bigger and bigger in this weather!'” says Gina Nalamlieng, 32, who met Kate in the ladies’ room at a July 9 charity polo match. The princess added, “I would love to come back here with my bikini next time and relax.”
The beach vacation will have to wait: After returning to their cottage in Wales from their triumphant tour, the couple “want to have a married life together under the radar” in the coming months, says a source close to them. The duke, a helicopter pilot with the RAF, will begin rigorous training for his flying captaincy and soon will be deployed for two months-away from his new wife-while the duchess hopes to settle on charitable pursuits. But for those who scored their own royal moment, the fairy-tale memory will last a lifetime. Says Yeoman: “Everyone was completely enraptured by them.”
Barbra! J. Lo! Nicole! Hollywood’s hottest turned out for the BAFTA gala July 9
“They make me smile,” the Oscar winner-who fielded a question from Kate about her kids-said of the royal couple.
BARBRA STREISAND & JAMES BROLIN
“They’re both very charming,” Streisand tells PEOPLE. “I told him about his mother’s being so gracious the night of the Prince of Tides opening in London. She made me stand up first, quite contrary to protocol.”
TOM HANKS & RITA WILSON
The duo-among the last to leave-chatted with Kate, who “never seemed rushed,” says BAFTA honoree Debs Gardner-Paterson.
WHAT I WORE TO MEET A PRINCESS
NICOLE KIDMAN in ice-blue Elie Saab Haute Couture
BLAKE LIVELY in Marchesa and Lorraine Schwartz jewels
JENNIFER GARNER in a YSL gown, David Webb jewels and Lanvin bag
GUGU MBATHA-RAW: The Larry Crowne star (one of the evening’s 42 Brits to Watch) wore royal blue Reem Acra.
JENNIFER LOPEZ in an Emilio Pucci gown and Brumani earrings
MY DATE WITH WILL & KATE
“We were all concerned, ‘Do you curtsy? What do you call them?’ But they were so refreshing because William stuck his hand out, and that just broke the ice. He has a bit of reserve, and you can tell that he was raised to do this since the day he was born. Kate is much more present. They laugh a lot together and finish each other’s sentences. It’s a Cinderella story!”
–Body of Proof‘s Dana Delany
Kate wore diamond chandelier earrings loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth.
An Upgraded Bag
Her signature envelope accessory got a shimmery makeover with Jimmy Choo’s Ubai Glitter Leather Clutch ($595).
Jimmy Choo Debut
She stepped out in the designer’s Vamp Platform Sandals ($750).
It may have been her first time in North America, but Kate has mastered the art of dressing up denim with high-fashion tops and classic shoes
(1) July 8: Calgary
The Duchess donned Temperley London’s Rodeo blouse ($660) and Goldsign jeans ($240) for the city’s Stampede Parade. There, she joked to her husband about a rodeo rider in chaps: “We should get you in a pair of these!”
(2) July 5: Yellowknife
She boarded a floatplane bound for “Honeymoon Island” in figure-flaunting J Brand skinny jeans ($169) and a Burberry top ($310).
(3) July 6: Slave Lake
She toured this fire-ravaged town in her economy-conscious high-low blend: Pied A Terre wedges ($150) and a Smythe blazer ($595).
Been There, Done That!
New princess, new traditions? Guess again! Throughout her tour, Kate followed in the Queen’s footsteps
The Royal Wave
Will and Kate waved to the commonwealth on July 8; Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip did the same in 1967.
The young couple planted an Eastern Hemlock to symbolize their love on July 2 in Ottawa; Elizabeth planted a tree there last year.
Queen Elizabeth visited a wigwam in Nova Scotia in 2010; Kate paid a similar visit at a Canadian Ranger station in Blachford Lake on July 5. The day before, the Duke and Duchess took part in a traditional Mi’kmaq “smudging” ceremony.
Kate kicked off a street hockey game in Yellowknife on July 5; Elizabeth took to the ice in Vancouver in 2002.