William attends Hobbit premiere

The Duke of Cambridge attended the UK premiere of the new Hobbit film on his own tonight, saying his pregnant wife Kate “would have loved to have been here if she could”.

William joined the stars of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for the screening in London’s Leicester Square while the Duchess, whose pregnancy was announced last week, continued to rest at St James’s Palace as she is suffering acute morning sickness.

Tessa Street, the general manager of the Odeon cinema which hosted the star-studded event in aid of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, met William as he arrived.

“It’s really exciting to have his support for the film and the charity,” she said.

“I was a bit nervous being on my own to meet him, but he was very friendly.

“I passed on my best wishes to Kate and he said ’She would have loved to have been here if she could’.

After walking down the special “green carpet” which replaced the usual red for the night, William went inside to meet the cast and was presented with a Hobbit goodie bag to take home to Kate.

She is suffering from the condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum which leaves expectant mothers with constant nausea and regular vomiting.

Over the weekend, her bouts of vomiting intensified to such a degree that William pulled out of the British Military Tournament on Sunday evening to be with his wife.

But although she is still suffering from the condition she may be experiencing less vomiting, so he felt able to attend the premiere.

Meeting the film’s stars, he joked with Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who reprises her role as the elf queen Galadriel from the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Talking about the ease of travelling from her native land to New Zealand, where the Hobbit films were shot, he said: “When I go to Australia I’m always winding up the Kiwis and visa versa. You always get a reaction.”

A host of stars attended the first UK performance of the latest JRR Tolkien adaptation.

The trilogy of films based on the novel by Tolkien, all directed by Sir Peter Jackson, are set in Middle Earth 60 years before the Rings trilogy.

Alongside Ms Blanchett were The Office Star Martin Freeman, who plays the title character, the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

Sir Ian McKellen, who reprises his role as the wizard Gandalf, was also there, as was Andy Serkis, who plays the evil creature Gollum.

Spooks star Richard Armitage, Cold Feet’s James Nesbitt and ex-Dr Who Sylvester McCoy, who all play dwarves in the new trilogy, were also present.

Celebs drawn to the red carpet included Olympic long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford, boyband McFly, television presenter Stephen Fry and Corrie star Antony Cotton.

Sir Ian said it was “lovely to put on the pointy hat again” and great to be in London for a film with a strong British presence.

He added: “Its cast is basically British and from the Commonwealth, Tolkien was an English writer, here we are in the capital city and it feels proper.”

The 73-year-old actor defended Sir Peter’s decision to make the film into a trilogy.

He added: “Peter just told us on the last day of filming ’I’ve got so much material, I can’t bear to cut any of it. We’ll have to turn it into three films.’

“So we’ll have to go back and do a bit more filming in May, back in New Zealand, no grumbles there. I’ve seen the first film and it looks pretty good to me.”

He also praised the 3D technology used to make the film. “I love it in 3D. It’s not crude 3D, it doesn’t bang out the screen at you. It beckons you in to Middle Earth. It’s spectacular.”

The royal film performance was being held in aid of CTBF, which supports film and television industry employees and their families in times of hardship.

Ms Blanchett joked about the cold.

“The weather is enough to drive anyone away but it is great to see so many fans,” she said outside.

Freeman admitted it was a challenge to star as The Hobbit himself, Bilbo Baggins, and he hoped fans enjoy the film.

He said: “I loved playing it. I really loved playing it.

“I hope people like it. There’s nothing more you can do. It’s in the hands of Peter Jackson and the editors.”

But he admitted travelling between New Zealand and his home in the UK where he lives with his young family had been the greatest challenge.

“That was probably the major test, the mental and emotional test of actually leaving your home for that long,” he said.

“But the gig itself was a real pleasure and a challenge in all the best ways.

“Sometimes they’re hard challenges, but sometimes they’re fun. It was an amazing job, I’ll never do another one like it.”

Serkis confessed he had not been able to miss his role as Gollum in the time since he made the Lord Of The Rings trilogy as he is still always asked to do the voice.

He joked: “I never thought he was ever going to go away. He’s never really drifted very far from me. But it was lovely to play the scene with Martin, it was day one of 276 days of shooting.”

Serkis only makes a small appearance in The Hobbit but ended up staying on to work behind the camera.

He said: “My unexpected journey on this was thinking I was going Down Under to reprise the role of Gollum for two weeks, and then Peter asked me to direct the second unit, so I ended up going for a year and a half.”

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