After all the hoopla, the Hollywood arrival of Prince William and his fragrant bride was more of a whimper than a bang.
In all my years of royal watching, it was possibly the most incongruous entrance that could have been contrived for the royal couple.
It started with a routine VIP arrival. When they landed at LA airport from Calgary they were greeted by Governor Gerry Brown and other dignitaries and swept into Beverly Hills in an armour plated motorcade.
So far, so high powered.
But their arrival at their first gig, a high tech new media summit which meshed high rollers like Mark Cuban with creative innovators, was a bust which left lawyers, investors and media folk in the audience scratching their heads in disbelief.
‘What was all that about?’ one celebrity lawyer asked me as the royal couple departed. He had a point.
It was as if the diplomats who organized the 40 minute royal visit to the Variety sponsored shindig had been told to smuggle William and Catherine in and out of the venue with the least amount of fuss.
Their visit to California was a chance to, quote their private secretary, of promoting British trade, flying the flag and raising money for their charity interests.
Their first gig was the trade part, William and Catherine ostensibly helping to sell a high tech park in the East End of London.
Hence their appearance at the first Venture Capital and New Media Summit at the Beverly Hilton hotel.
They arrived as a panel of businessman, moderated by Chad Troutwine, producer of Freakonomics, and including Tim Cadogan, CEO of Open X, and Shawn Colo, head of Demand Media, discussed the merits of investing in British talent and the opportunities presented by the East End version of Silicon Valley.
The audience stood to greet them and they were plonked into two chairs on the stage with the rest of the panel. Then the discussion continued as if they weren’t there.
No summary of what had been said, no review of Tech City, a scheme which is apparently a pet project of Prime Minister David Cameron, and no effective introduction of the royal guests.
It was as if two performing seals had been introduced into the room. Interesting, but what was the purpose? Not so much Freakonomics more a freak show.
For the remainder of the discussion, moderator Troutwine had his back to the Duchess who gamely tried to look interested in conversation which was so much gobbledygook.
After ten minutes or so Troutwine ended the discussion, the royal couple stood up, shook hands with the panel, and, feeling slightly dazed, made their way through the scrum of delegates taking pictures of them with their camera phones and left the building. If they were thinking: ‘What the hell was that all about?’ they weren't the only ones.
‘Why didn’t Prince William make a speech or even say a few words,’ asked one bemused delegate.
He had a point. If William and Catherine were here to impress the room of high rollers about the benefits of coming to Britain, the organisers could not have done a worse job. Here was an opportunity for Prince William to sell British high tech skills to a captive audience. It was an opportunity wasted.
The visit seemed to have no point or purpose and quite frankly you could say the same about this flying visit to the West Coast.
It has all the look and feel of a bolt on to what has been a very successful visit to Canada. Apart from playing polo in Carpinteria today in front of a well heeled crowd who have paid between $400 and $4000 for tickets, few Angelenos have the chance to meet or greet the royal couple.
There isn’t even a photo opportunity that would symbolize this historic visit. For example a visit to the Griffith Park observatory so that they could be photographed looking at the famous Hollywood sign would be a picture that would become iconic.
As it is, this morning’s newspapers have pictures of William chatting with English soccer player David Beckham at a reception at the Hancock Park residence of the British High Commission. Hardly America meets Britain. And certainly not Hollywood.
(Photo credit: Andrew Morton, excluding featured image, LA Times)