William and Kate premiere 'more drama than EastEnders'

William and Kate braved the wet weather to attend the screening.
William and Kate braved the wet weather to attend the screening. Photo: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walked the red carpet tonight as they highlighted Africa's threatened wildlife at the UK premiere of a big-cats film.

William and Kate were dazzled by dozen of flashguns when they arrived for the screening of the nature documentary raising funds for the Duke's UK-based animal conservation charity Tusk Trust.

The royal couple, who celebrate their first wedding anniversary on Sunday, stepped from their chauffeur-driven car and walked the short distance to the BFI Southbank in London as banks of photographers shouted for their attention.

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to children as she arrives at the African Cats UK film premiere held at the BFI Southbank, London.
The Duchess of Cambridge talks to children as she arrives at the African Cats UK film premiere held at the BFI Southbank, London. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

Kate was wearing a Matthew Williamson dress, while William looked smart in a dark suit.

Mark Knopfler, lead singer of the group Dire Straits, was among the guests along with filmmaker Guy Ritchie and Dragons' Den judge Deborah Meaden, a patron of Tusk Trust.

The wildlife film tells the story of life on Kenya's plains for a pride of lions and a family of cheetahs as they battle for survival.

Hollywood star Patrick Stewart narrates the true-life story of cheetah Sita bringing up her five cubs in the Masai Mara game reserve and of Mara, a six month-old lion cub being raised by her mother Layla.

Guy Ritchie and Jacqui Ainsley arrive at the film screening.
Guy Ritchie and Jacqui Ainsley arrive at the film screening. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

After the film screening of African Cats, highlighting threatened wildlife, Prince William gave an impassioned speech, calling for the world to try to halt the threat to lions and cheetahs.

He started by joking about the emotional roller coaster the audience had been through watching the cubs grow up.

William said: "Wow - that was amazing. I'm emotionally exhausted. There's more drama in that than EastEnders. What that told me was - who needs men?"

He added: "African Cats shows graphically the battle for survival facing every lion and cheetah born in the wild.

"The natural challenges are formidable enough, without man's interference.

Deborah Meaden attended the event in aid of the Tusk Trust, of which she is a patron.
Deborah Meaden attended the event in aid of the Tusk Trust, of which she is a patron. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

William is a self-confessed lover of Africa, its people and wildlife, and has worries about the current animal welfare crisis that has seen renewed interest from poachers in elephant ivory and rhino horns.

Demand from consumers in the Far East and China has seen prices for the animal products rise significantly in recent years.

Charlie Mayhew, co-founder of Tusk Trust said the number of cheetahs on the continent stands at around 10,000 to 12,000, while estimates suggest only 25,000 lions are left in Africa.

The Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the African Cats UK film premiere.
The Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the African Cats UK film premiere. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

Mr Mayhew described the Duke's ability to get the wildlife message across to the public as vital for his charity's work and the efforts of others.

He said: "It's enormously important and enormously valuable to have as our royal patron Prince William. His role, despite the Tusk agenda, on the global stage (is important) not just for our work but communicating the conservation message that everybody in conservation wants to get across. He's a powerful advocate for conservation in general."

He added: "Kate as we know got engaged to Prince William out in Africa and she's got the same general love of the continent as he has. She very kindly came to LA (with William) to launch our USA patrons circle. I cannot tell you how successful that was."

William and Kate also met children and young adults from charities that have the Duke and Duchess as patrons.

Princess Briggs, a former homeless teenager now a resident at a south London centre run by Centrepoint, which has the Duke as its royal patron, said after chatting to the special guests: "It's a great opportunity I'm speechless. Kate is a role model, she's real class."

The 18-year-old, who arrived in the UK from Sierra Leone four years ago, said about William: "He was talking to me about Centrepoint and how I'm doing there. I was trying to explain to him I have a lot of facilities. I have my own room. I have mentors. I feel safe and I feel comfortable."

The Duke and Duchess praised African Cats as they left its screening after a question and answer session was held with the filmmakers.

Tusk Trust chief executive Charlie Mayhew said after escorting William and Kate to the door: "They loved it, they absolutely loved it."