Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's trip to the USA

In California, the Royal Couple are delighted to able to contribute to deepening and strengthening the multi-layered links between the United States and the United Kingdom. Their visit builds on the momentum of Prince Harry’s visit to the East Coast last year and the year before that, The Prince of Wales’s recent visit to Washington, and President Obama’s State Visit to the UK this summer. The visit will support the interests of the United Kingdom through the prism of the Royal Couple’s interests.

The United States West Coast is a tremendously important market for British business. The Duke and Duchess will support UK technology investment as well as the creative industries through BAFTA. They will highlight the bond between the US and UK’s Armed Forces, particularly focusing now on the important next step of reintegration of servicemen and women into civilian life after they have finished active service. The Royal Couple will also build on strong existing links between the US and UK charitable sector through some established patronages, such as Tusk and Centrepoint, and the work of their Charitable Foundation.

A word on the engagements:

The Duke and Duchess will depart from Calgary by Canadian Airbus on Friday afternoon to Los Angeles, arriving early evening.

To recap, the purpose and objectives of the US visit are threefold: to lend direct support to the UK’s prosperity agenda, which is seeking to create jobs and investment, by deepening the strong bonds between the US and UK. Secondly, the visit aims to deepen and strengthen links between our respective Armed Forces, particularly on veterans issues, including reintegration into society – and create and tighten relationships in the charitable sector. Finally, the visit builds on the momentum of Prince Harry’s visit last year, The Prince of Wales’s visit this Spring, and the State Visit by President Obama.

The British Ambassador will meet the couple on arrival and they will go directly to an event in support of UK Trade and Investment.

This pre-planned business event brings together British and American technologists and Venture Capitalists to find new avenues for investment and create jobs in the USA and UK. A key priority for the event is generating support for the development of “Tech City”, a push to promote the Old Street area of London as a world-leading hub for developments in technology and software design. The couple will hear a short presentation by leading technologists, and then have an opportunity to meet some of the delegates at the conference.

The final engagement on Friday is a working reception at the Consul-General’s Residence in Los Angeles. This will include some of California’s political leaders, as well as providing a good opportunity for key contacts and friends of the United Kingdom in California (including philanthropy, business and the creative industries) to meet the couple.

The aim of the event is very much to strengthen and deepen the already strong and multi-layered links between the British Isles and the West Coast of the USA. The Duke and Duchess are delighted to able to support our Country, flying the flag in a way they have not had the opportunity to do overseas before.

On Saturday 9th July, the couple will travel to Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. The Club is celebrating its centenary and is hosting a “Foundation Polo Cup” in aid of The American Friends of The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry. The charitable work of The Princes and The Duchess, notably through the Wedding Gift Fund and Prince Harry’s Walking With The Wounded expedition, has captured the imagination of many in the United States.

This event is an opportunity for the Foundation to raise its profile there, including its approach to “catalytic philanthropy”. The Cup will raise funds, and also hoist the flag for the United Kingdom. The Duke will play, and The Duchess will attend the event and hand over the prize to the winning team.

On Saturday night, the couple are very much looking forward to an event in support of the British Academy for Film and Television Arts – BAFTA. As you know, The Duke is Academy President, but he sees this as a tremendous opportunity to build on the momentum of British successes in television, film and video games. BAFTA are looking for concrete results from this event.

The aim is twofold: to connect the best, young, up-and-coming British talent with Hollywood’s movers and shakers; and to showcase the incredible skills, talent and strengths of the UK creative industries at home and in California. This will embrace film, television, video games and music.

It will be a red carpet event, in black tie, with a sit-down dinner. It will take place in a fabulously regenerated 1920s building, the Belasco Theatre, in Downtown Los Angeles, which is undergoing a renaissance. At each table, young British talent will be buddied with, and sit alongside, the Industry’s executives and studio bosses: We hope it will get them that big break, but also that it will generate more and greater interest in investment in the UK creative industries, whether it be film production, television, special effects, or computer game design. The Duke will make a short speech at this event.

The final day of the tour – Sunday 10th July – starts with a private engagement in support of Tusk USA. The Duke is Patron of Tusk Trust in the UK, and its work on conservation in Africa. This is its American branch, and The Duke is delighted to be able to participate in an event which will give more support to this important cause.

The next engagement brings the couple back into Downtown Los Angeles. They will visit Inner City Arts, an incredible organisation which uses visual arts and performance to give inner city kids – in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in the world – an oasis of calm, fun and learning. It seems to be at the direct meeting point of couples’ interests: homelessness is a massive issue in Downtown LA – 270,000 are homeless in Los Angeles. As we’ve discussed earlier, The Duchess is extremely interested in how the arts can help young people unlock their potential. It brings together these strands in a concrete, meaningful way.

Centrepoint from the UK, another of The Duke’s patronages, has connected with Inner City Arts as a result of this visit. The British Council in LA, with the support of the Embassy and Consulate-General, is also exploring ways of deepening the links between the UK and US charitable sector in this regard.

The couple are really looking forward to meeting the children participating in art programmes – mainly painting and pottery. The couple will then join an audience of children and supporters and watch a performance from the dance and drama classes.

The Duke and Duchess will then move on to the final event of the Tour which aims to strengthen further the links between UK and US armed forces. It focuses primarily on military families and the reintegration of returning servicemen and servicewomen – with an emphasis on training and employment, which is of real interest to The Duke and Prince Harry at the moment.

“Service Nation: Mission Serve” is an umbrella organisation, set up by the US government, which brings together a host of different service charities to support the reintegration of Servicemen and women to civvy street.

That Sunday, an enormous “job fair” is taking place at Sony Pictures Studio under the “Service Nation: Mission Serve” banner. The Duke and Duchess will attend and learn more about how the US is taking steps to support returning servicemen. The Foundation is taking a very close interest, too, and beginning to look at ways to work with “Service Nation: MissionServe” on this. The couple will meet the project’s supporters in a reception, and visit the job fair. The Duke will say a few words alongside a supporter of the project and a speaker from the US government. They will then help pack care packages for the families of Servicemen and women deployed on operations, and spend some time with one of the families who have benefitted from the programme.

Tat completes the engagements, and completes the Tour.

The couple will then depart by scheduled airline that afternoon and return directly to the United Kingdom.

A word, if I may now, about the entourage, as I know this has been of some interest. The couple will be supported by the following members of their Household on the Tour:

•Me – as the Private Secretary

•Chris Kealey – as the Tour Coordinator

•Miguel Head – their Press Secretary

•Patrick Harrison – The Prince of Wales’s Press Secretary

In addition, the Household will be supported by:

•Sir David Manning – Sir David, as you know, acts as an advisor to The Duke and Duchess and to Prince Harry.

•An administrative assistant, drawn from the Household Office.

•And a hairdresser – James Pryce – who will come along for The Duchess.

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