July 11, 2011 in Nation/World

Royals visit kids’ art center, job fair

Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

Prince William and his wife, Catherine, make handprints in clay Sunday in Los Angeles.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Growing up poor in South Los Angeles, Lorenzo Perez never imagined he would one day dance for British royalty.

“I didn’t think there was still kings and queens,” said Perez, 19, who got his chance on Sunday. “It’s like a Disney movie.”

On the last day of their whirlwind visit to the United States, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, saw a less glitzy side of Southern California, visiting a children’s arts center in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row and a job fair for military veterans and their families in nearby Culver City.

The appearances highlighted some of William’s charitable interests: helping homeless youth, promoting the arts and supporting troops. Sunday’s itinerary contrasted with the couple’s previous engagements, which included a charity polo match near Santa Barbara and red-carpet dinners with Hollywood celebrities.

The day began with a morning reception in Beverly Hills to raise money for the Tusk Trust, an African wildlife conservation group.

The couple then rode across town, escorted by Cynthia Harnisch, president of Inner-City Arts, a nonprofit that provides free arts instruction to poor children. The drive ended in the gritty neighborhood that has become known as the country’s homeless capital.

As the motorcade of SUVs and motorcycles passed San Julian Street, Harnisch said, the royal couple seemed “astonished” by the number of people on the streets.

When they pulled into the leafy campus, they were greeted by half a dozen elementary school students holding a welcome banner painted with ladybugs, butterflies and flowers.

The royals put on aprons and worked with the children on ceramics projects and painting Hindu and Buddhist mandalas.

In the ceramics studio, the couple left their handprints and signatures in slabs of clay that will be displayed on campus.

At their last stop, William and Catherine attended a job fair for veterans, active military and military families at Sony Studios.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email