The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have rubbed shoulders with Brooklyn royalty when they met Jay Z and Beyonce at a New York basketball match.
William and Kate chatted to the rap mogul and his wife during a break in the game between local team the Brooklyn Nets, supported by the celebrity couple, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite the poor performance of Jay Z’s team who eventually lost 110 – 88 the two couples were all smiles during a break before the final quarter of the contest.
The rapper used to be a co-owner of the Nets until he sold his share and is a regular face at the Barclays Centre in the fashionable neighbourhood of Brooklyn.
During the match there was a noisy but peaceful demonstration by a group campaigning for justice for the family of Eric Garner, who died in July after a New York Police Department officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest.
The protest was one of a number held in recent days and the activists staged a “die in” lying on the pavement outside the basketball arena while being watched by a large police presence.
Inside the Barclays Centre arena, Cleveland’s star player Lebron James came out in sympathy with the protesters during the warm-up, wearing the T-shirt bearing the slogan “I can’t breathe” said to be the last words of Mr Garner.
Kate dressed casually for the night at the basketball match and looked chic in a grey coat by US designer Tory Burch, skinny jeans and heels, while Beyonce wore a polka dot top and figure-hugging skirt.
William is known to be a fan of R&B, dance and rap music and must have relished meeting rapper Jay Z.
The two couples sat opposite each other in courtside seats that cost thousands of dollars but usually cannot be bought as they are prestige places given to celebrity supporters.
The Duke and Duchess were dwarfed by US basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo when they hung out with the hoop star before last night's match.
They met him ahead of a dinner in the Brooklyn Nets’ boardroom held to mark a new partnership between their Royal Foundation’s United for Wildlife and Coach Core programmes and the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) global social responsibility initiative.
The partnership aims to use sports stars to raise awareness about the importance of international wildlife conservation and promote basketball.
The towering former basketball star Mutombo, Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder and two-time All-Star Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks have been named United for Wildlife ambassadors.
They join fellow celebrity supporters from the world of sport such as David Beckham, Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton and NBA star Yao Ming.
William and Kate posed for pictures with Mutombo and NBA officials before going to the dinner At 7ft 2in, the former basketball player, 48, towered over the 6ft 3in prince who joked: “At last I’m standing next to someone who’s taller than me.”
The second in line to the throne, stood alongside his wife and held a basketball for the photographers.
They were flanked by Mutombo, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Kathleen Behrens, NBA executive vice president for social responsibility and player programmes, William joked: “This is when I should be spinning the ball on my finger.”
During the match the royal couple sat with Mutombo and looked engrossed by the action on the basketball court as they ate popcorn.
They were also affectionate to one another with William putting his hand on his wife’s knee.
After the game the royal couple descended into the bowels of the arena and in a basement hospitality suite met James, who had brought them a gift-wrapped box of cupcakes from his home town of Akron, Ohio.
It had been a day of firsts for the royal couple and they declared themselves impressed by their first NBA game.
William told the 6ft 8in basketball star: “It was good, really good. Our first time,” adding “I went to the White House for the first time. It was quite daunting.”
James asked the Duke what size shoes he wore and William replied: “Half the size of yours,” pointing at his huge feet.
The superstar also presented the couple with Cavaliers jerseys, a maroon one for Prince George that said “George 1” on the back and a yellow top emblazoned with the words “Cambridge 7.”
Kate held the yellow one and William the maroon one, as James posed for pictures with the couple, putting his arm around the Duchess’s shoulder.