Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Duchess dazzles: Kate and William bring a touch of glamour to charity gala


Simply stunning: All eyes were on the Duchess of Cambridge as she she made her way inside the gala dinner

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a dazzling entrance at a charity gala dinner at Kensington Palace this evening.

Looking stunning in a Jenny Packham gown, accessorised with LK Bennett shoes and a clutch bag, Kate brought her usual touch of simple elegance to the Duke and Duchess's first official public engagement as a married couple.

The couple are attending the 10th annual Absolute Return for Kids (Ark) Gala Dinner.

Dazzling: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Ark Gala Dinner at Kensington Palace

Kate's style has been scrutinised since officially becoming a member of the Royal family following her wedding to Prince William in April.

With her recent appearances meeting the Obamas at Buckingham Palace - and watching the horse racing at the Epsom Derby at the weekend - she tested the sartorial water with simple but chic pieces.

Star attraction: William and Kate didn't disappoint on their first official public engagement as a married couple

However, the Duchess pulled out all the stops for this evening's glamorous event.

William and Kate are attending the reception with 900 other guests at Perks Field and will later sit down to a private dinner before the prince gives a speech.

Musician Mark Ronson and his band will perform for the royals and guests.

The Duke and Duchess are attending on behalf of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry - a body which raises sustainable funds for charitable grants.

Glowing: Kate's beautiful gown was teamed with LK Bennett shoes and a clutch bag

The gala dinner was held in an enormous luxury marquee which appeared more like a small building.

As the guests arrived, a troupe of divers entertained them by diving acrobatically into a specially constructed pool.

When the royal couple's Jaguar limousine pulled up, they were greeted by calls from banks of photographers asking them to pose for a picture.

Financier Arpad Busson, co-founder of the organisation, warmly welcomed them before they climbed a few steps to the entrance of the building before posing and smiling for the waiting cameras.

Outside the banquet hall was a covered reception area with two champagne bars and stalls serving sumptuous canapes from the Mediterranean and Far East where guests gathered before dinner was served.

Hot ticket: The couple's presence at the gala will shine a spotlight on work carried out by the charity

The Duke and Duchess mingled with some of the more prominent figures or chatted to associates of their host, Mr Busson, known as Arki to his friends.

William and Kate were the centre of attention with people crowding around them to get a view of the newlyweds or take their picture on camera phones.

Mr Busson has two sons with his former partner, model Elle Macpherson, and in recent years has dated actress Uma Thurman.

The royal couple chatted to his sons, Flynn Busson, 13, and his eight-year-old brother, Cy, laughing and joking with them.

After about 45 minutes, they made their way into the circular banqueting room which was filled with almost 100 oval tables.

Meet and greet: From left to right, financier Arpad Busson, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Ian Wace, also a co-founder of Ark

Among the guests seated on the Duke and Duchess's table were Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth, actress Liz Hurley, socialite Jemima Khan and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup.

Elizabeth Murdoch, the daughter of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, also had a place, as did William's private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, and Baroness de Rothschild.
Anish Kapoor, the British-based, Indian-born sculptor, who won the Turner Prize in 1991, was another guest with a seat close to the Duke and Duchess.

Kate sat between Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, a distant relative of William, and Mr Busson, while her husband was opposite her with socialite Countess Debonaire von Bismarck on his left and Princess Marie of Greece on his other side.

Wrapped around the edge of the room was a multi-coloured dot-matrix display which would later be used to show the bidding for charity lots that included a stay on the Maltese Falcon - the world's largest sailing yacht - or a Kenyan safari at a luxury lodge.

Captivating: Kate seems to have taken to public life with ease as she chats with Matthew Freud

On the tables were tiny consoles to allow the wealthy guests to place their bids and around the room were swings for performers to use to entertain the guests.

Musician Mark Ronson and his band were due to entertain the diners later and a mystery band - rumoured to be the Kings Of Leon - were also performing.

The £10,000-a-head dinner will also feature auctions to raise donations for Ark, which has projects helping disadvantaged children around the globe.

In the UK it sponsors a number of academy schools and runs other projects like Teaching Leaders and Future Leaders.

Ark was co-founded in 2002 by the financier Arpad Busson, who now acts as a trustee of the organisation.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: 'Over the past 10 years, Ark's programmes in the UK, Southern Africa, eastern Europe and India have transformed the lives of more than 200,000 children.

'In tackling access to healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, improving educational opportunities in the UK, US and India, and giving children the chance to live in a caring and nurturing environment in Eastern Europe, Ark is helping to overcome some of the most severe blights on children's lives.

Star quality: Liz Hurley, Sophie Dahl and Jemima Khan arrive at the gala

source: dailymail

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