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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the charity premiere of the new Tom Cruise movie, Top Gun: Maverick on Thursday night.
The Royal couple were greeted by a huge crowd in Leicester Square, where hundreds had gathered in the hope of catching a glimpse of the couple and the film’s stars.
The premiere, a Royal Film Performance, was organised in aid of The Film and TV Charity, which supports people working behind the scenes in the UK’s screen industry.
The 59-year-old actor, who on Wednesday won an honorary Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer introduced the Cambridges to the film’s actors, who were lined up against the backdrop of a real Eurofighter Typhoon, currently in service with the Royal Air Force.
They included Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Greg Tarzan Davis, Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez and Lewis Pullman.
The Duke and Duchess, who wore an off-the-shoulder, black Roland Mouret gown, were welcomed to the premiere by Sir Kenneth Olisa, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London; Cameron Saunders, the acting chairman of The Film and TV Charity; and Alex Pumfrey, the organisation’s chief executive.
Inside the lobby, they met Maverick’s director Joseph Kosinski, screenwriter and producer Christopher McQuarrie, producer David Ellison and Lorne Balfe, who produced the film’s score.
Also in the line-up were Brian Robbins, the president and chief executive of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon; Mark Viane, the president of international theatrical distribution at Paramount; John Fletcher, the managing director of Paramount; and Miles Quarless, the manager of the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square.
The Duke wore a McQueen suit and shoes by Crockett & Jones, embroidered with two F18s, the planes depicted in the film.
The Duke and Duchess revealed they had been playing the Top Gun soundtrack at home with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who they said were jealous not to be at the premiere with their parents.
The Duchess explained: “It is a school night.”
Poppy Saunders, 11 – whose father Cameron was in attendance, above – presented the Duchess with a posy.
Linsay Saunders, her mother, said: “She [the Duchess] said the kids loved the film as well and they wished they were here tonight.”
It was reported in April that the Cambridges had been invited by Cruise to a private screening of the film at the Imax cinema off Leicester Square with other members of the Royal family, including Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Poppy added: “I was pretty nervous, but it was really exciting.”
“She said she liked sweet peas, which were in the posy,” added Mrs Saunders.
Alfie Everett-Fletcher, nine – whose father John also attended the premiere, above – handed a programme to the Duke, who leaned down to chat to him, saying: “This is very exciting.”
Speaking afterwards, Alfie said: “He [the Duke] asked me what I liked about the last film and if I liked planes and jets and motorbikes. He said he was a big fan of the film and cars and stuff.”
Elise Everett, Alfie’s mother, said: “He said they’ve had the theme tune playing at home with the kids. They said the kids were jealous.”
After meeting the cast outside on the red carpet, inside they met a line-up of film executives before chatting to representatives of The Film and TV Charity, as well as people who have been supported by it.
Sindy Campbell, the head of Film Birmingham, told the Duke: “The work they do is absolutely vital. When the pandemic happened, it became essential.”
Ms Campbell, who founded the Black Film and TV Forum, for black people working behind the scenes in UK film and TV production, applied for a grant from the charity at the start of the pandemic.
She said: “The charity funded us for the first six months and we were able to bring professionals in.” She said about 30 people were helped as a result.
The Duke and Duchess then walked into the auditorium to a royal fanfare to take their seats for the show.
Some 36 years since the original Top Gun movie was released in 1986, the sequel sees Cruise reprise the role of US naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, returning to the Top Gun academy to train fighter pilots.
They include Bradley Bradshaw – played by Miles Teller – who is the son of Maverick’s tragic friend and radar officer Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, who was killed when a training exercise went wrong.
It has received rave reviews, featuring real stunts rather than computer-generated images after the actors all underwent three months of intensive aviation training.
The film was originally due for release in July 2019, but its opening was repeatedly delayed because of the pandemic.
Thursday’s premiere was the first Royal Film Performance since 2019, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended a screening of 1917, the First World War drama.
The Royal Film Performance began as the Royal Command Film Performance, taking place for the first time at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square in 1946.
The film, A Matter Of Life And Death, starring David Niven, was watched by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.
Top Gun: Maverick opens in the UK and Ireland on May 27.