Men in tight Speedos, acrobats dangling Moulin Rouge-style from the ceiling, filthy-rich bankers with bucks to burn and celebrities anxious to mingle with the hottest couple in British society.
All this – and more – went down the night theDuke and Duchess of Cambridge hit the town on their first official engagement as husband and wife. And they did themselves proud.
Prince William was dashing in a tuxedo andCatherine dazzled in a dress that will no doubt be copied by shops on every high street in Britain.
Her shimmering £3 800 (about R41 800) peach sequined gown was designed by Jenny Packhamand teamed with pink £175 (about R1 925) LK Bennett heels – an outfit that, unsurprisingly, was thoroughly dissected by the media the next day.
“Catherine proved she still has her feet on the ground by going for high street footwear,” the Daily Mail said.
But website The Economic Voice was more caustic. “That’s still bloody expensive to most of us – a week’s wage after tax for many in this country for a pair of shoes that will be worn at maximum for four hours.”
The writer added, “The world’s problems and interest in most worthwhile endeavours were put on hold as the collective focus of mankind rested for one brief moment on the shoulders of a very thin woman in a very thin dress who unremarkably walked, shook hands and spoke to people.”
Nasty, nasty – but what the writer didn’t comment on was that a vast amount of cash was splashed out by the well-heeled guests during an auction that raised about £17 million (R187 million) for needy children.
The occasion was the 10th anniversary dinner in aid of Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), a charity that aims to improve the lives of children. The co-founder is financier Arpad Busson, actress Uma Thurman’s ex-fiancé and father of supermodel Elle Macpherson’s two sons.
Tickets to the dinner, held at Kensington Palace, started at £10 000 (about R110 000) a head and among the celebrity diners were Elizabeth Hurley, Jemima Khan, David Furnish and Kevin Spacey.
Entertainment was provided by DJ extraordinaire Mark Ronson and rockers The Kings of Leon while dozens of young men clad only in tight swimsuits dived into a huge pool brought to the palace especially for the occasion.
“Kate’s eyes were as big as saucers,” a witness says. “The organisers had also built huge swings over the tables where acrobats performed a number of stunts just above the royal couple’s heads.”
Another source adds, “It was the most extravagant, ostentatious, over-the-top bash you can ever imagine with bankers splashing their cash like there was no tomorrow. It was not the sort of occasion you would normally associate with royalty but Will and Kate took it in their stride like true professionals.”
The royal pair mingled effortlessly with the crowd and Kate’s eyes lit up whenever someone asked her how she was finding married life. “I’m loving it,” she said. “I must admit I do find it a little surreal at times but that’s to be expected I suppose.”
Get the YOU of 23 June 2011 for more lovely pictures of Kate, now the Duchess of Cambridge.