If this year’s film awards had a category for best architectural setting, then the BAFTAs just trounced the Oscars. For its nominees’ reception Feb. 7, the evening before its award ceremony, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts used Kensington Palace, the residence of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton.
“I can’t compete with the Oscars on so many levels,” BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry told The Hollywood Reporter, “but I can throw a uniquely British party at a royal palace.”
On first sight, the palace’s most notable characteristic is, it sits on roughly a dozen football fields’ worth of grass in central London. Outside the museum-size building were about 20 photographers and 10 film crews (minimal by Hollywood premiere standards) awaiting the 400 guests, who went up the King’s Grand Staircase to the King’s Gallery where portraits of deceased royals looked down on the crowd. (And while his bygone relatives were well-represented on the walls, the Prince, who is BAFTA’s president, and his wife were not on hand.)
“They told me this was Amanda Berry’s house,” joked Harvey Weinstein. “The Academy should buy something like this for (AMPAS president) Cheryl Boone Isaacs.”
J.K. Simmons said the setting “was the kind of place where you marvel at the grandeur.” Rosanna Arquette said she “felt like Cinderella, like the scullery maid who came to the palace.” And Mark Ruffalo said, “The obvious thing to say is: It must cost a fortune to heat the place.”
In the section of the palace where the reception was held, there was no sign of it being a home (there’s a cafe and gift shop on the first floor), but there was one reminder that residents are trying to keep the place tidy: only white wine is served, none of the staining red.