NEW YORK, December 9- America’s finest talent gave the warmest of welcomes to Britain’s Prince William and wife Kate late Monday, dazzling them at their first NBA game featuring basketball legend LeBron James.
Rapper Jay-Z and superstar wife Beyonce chatted to the royals during an interval, and James treated them to a breathtaking display of brilliance as he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their seventh win in a row at the Barclays Center.
The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and double Olympian met the royal couple at the end of the match, giving them a Cavaliers shirt marked Cambridge and another for their one-year-old son Prince George.
Nicknamed “King James” and a player who overcome a tough upbringing to become one of America’s greatest sporting legends, said before the match it would be a huge honor to play before royalty.
“For them to take time out of their schedule to come here, first time watching a basketball game, it was an honor that I’d be that guy they decided they wanted to watch,” James said after the game.
His team the Cavaliers dispatched the Brooklyn Nets 110-88 in a lackluster performance by the home team avidly supported by Jay-Z.
Five months pregnant with her second child, the Duchess of Cambridge covered her baby bump in a grey coat by billionaire New York designer Tory Burch and wore her auburn hair gently waved.
The couple sat courtside for the final two quarters of the match, were repeatedly offered refreshments by waiters and flashed up on the stadium camera as the MC called on the crowd to give them a warm Brooklyn welcome.
William, dressed in a checked shirt, blushed and then waved as Kate smiled sweetly at her husband.
– Courtside with Jay-Z and Beyonce –
Jay-Z and Beyonce, dubbed Broolyn royalty by many, sat opposite them on the other side of the court. The US music A-listers walked over to say hello and chat for several minutes to the royal couple to deafening cheers from the crowd.
Outside, protests demanding justice for black men killed by white police officers continued for a sixth straight night.
Dozens staged a spirited demonstration, shouting “how do you spell racist, NYPD” and carried placards, hoping to attract royal attention and the bevy of TV crews parked outside.
James and other NBA players wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts as they warmed up before the game in tribute to the protest movement.
It was a starstruck end to a packed day that saw William laugh and joke with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office before the couple met widely tipped 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea in New York.
The royal couple’s lightning three-day visit, their first to America’s biggest city is a mix of diplomacy, supporting their favorite causes and promoting British business.
Second in line to the throne after his father Prince Charles, William is increasingly taking on more long-haul work for the British monarchy as Queen Elizabeth II approaches her nineties.
He sought Obama’s support for his campaign to end illegal wildlife trafficking and the president, reportedly an ardent admirer of William’s grandmother, appeared only too happy to oblige.
– ‘You forgot to ask?’ –
William spoke to Obama about welcoming his second child with Kate next year, joking that during all the excitement of George’s birth, he didn’t realize whether it was a boy or girl.
“You forgot to ask?” laughed Obama.
William continued his first visit to Washington DC with a speech at the World Bank, saying annual profits of $20 billion from illegal wildlife trade funds organized crime and armed groups.
“Cooperation is our greatest weapon against the poachers and traffickers,” said William. “By taking a truly international approach, we can get one step ahead of them.”
Left in New York, Kate spent an hour at a child development center, wrapping a Christmas present and helping three and four-year-olds do art and crafts.
– Princess from ‘Frozen’ –
Dressed in a $1,000 black coat by British label Goat, she waved to well-wishers who braved the freezing cold at the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem.
“They thought she was the princess from Frozen,” said Rose Ann Harris, an administrator, referring to the wildly popular Hollywood animation as the duchess said goodbye to children.
A New York ambulance was dispatched to accompany her, reportedly as a precaution for her pregnancy.
The couple, who are in the United States without their son, are expected to fly home as soon as their last function concludes on Tuesday night.
They are staying at the Carlyle Hotel, where William’s mother Diana used to stay.
Their arrival has drawn comparisons with the 1985 visit made by Charles and Diana, when the princess dazzled Americans by dancing with US president Ronald Reagan and Hollywood star John Travolta.