US & Canada

Prince William and Kate visit Skid Row in Los Angeles

The Duchess of Cambridge does a painting during a visit to the Inner-City Arts club in Los Angeles, California, July 10, 2011
Image caption Kate drew a picture of a snail while the couple chatted to the children in a painting class

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have visited a school in the deprived Skid Row area of Los Angeles on the final day of their North American tour.

Prince William and Kate heard about the challenges faced by students at the Inner City Arts academy, before sitting at easels and speaking to youngsters.

Before leaving to fly back to the UK, the royal couple also attended a jobs fair for military veterans.

Skid Row, in LA's downtown area, has a large homeless population.

Inner-City Arts, a not-for-profit organisation, has seen 150,000 vulnerable youngsters walk through its doors to be taught performance and visual art since it was founded in 1989.

The royal couple were welcomed to the academy on Sunday by six young children holding a banner, and about 150 well-wishers.

Cynthia Harnisch, the academy's president, spoke to the couple about the poverty related challenges faced by many students at the school, before the royals worked with some of them on their paintings.

William and Kate went on to see the site's ceramics studio, where children were working on separate parts of a giant tortoise.

Joint imprint

The duchess joined the students who were creating the tortoise's shell, while William sat at another table where children were working on its body.

The duke and duchess also put their hands in blocks of clay and then signed them, instead of writing in a visitor's book. The tiles will be glazed by students, fired in their kilns and then installed in one of the campus walls.

The Skid Row visit came on the final day of the couple's three-day visit to California.

The royal couple's final stop before returning to the UK was to meet members of the group Service Nation: Mission Serve, which aims to help military veterans to find jobs.

'Brilliant initiative'

William and Kate were cheered by the ex-servicemen and women and their partners who were attending the fair when they arrived, and the couple did a short walkabout.

In a speech, the duke then told the crowd his visit was one of the "most important" events on their tour to North America.

Image caption The royal couple were given the opportunity to talk to children during their school visit

"This is because it is about men and women who - of their own free will - choose to put their life on the line for their country," he said.

"Service Nation: Mission Serve, and all the companies and employers taking part today, are providing opportunities which mean something very immediate and personal to us.

"Catherine and I both have friends back in Britain who could benefit from a brilliant initiative like this."

The couple then filled boxes given to youngsters whose parents have been deployed to Afghanistan.

The surroundings of their visit were in stark contrast to those of the previous night, when the couple mingled with Hollywood stars at a Bafta black-tie dinner to promote up-and-coming British entertainment talent.

William is president of Bafta - the British Academy of Film and Television Arts - and the organisation hosted the evening to highlight the range and depth of British talent in film, television and video games.

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