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LONDON – The long-anticipated visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to inaugurate Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden Friday boosted attention for a deal between the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Warner Bros. to create a trio of annual Prince William Scholarships in Film, Television and Games.
Before official business, Prince William and Kate Middleton joshed around the Hollywood studio’s sprawling U.K. site, having a mock fight with some Harry Potter wands.
The Prince, who gave a speech to inaugurate the studio in his role as president of BAFTA, joked he would like to “borrow” the Batmobile for the weekend, before revealing his younger brother Prince Harry still thought Harry Potter was real.
“To be honest, I’m over the moon just to have seen the real Batmobile and Batpod – you don’t do baby seats for those cars, do you, by any chance?” William joked.
“On the other hand, Harry’s just excited to see a real life talking owl in the Harry Potter studios,” William said of his brother. “I haven’t told him yet that Harry Potter is fictional, so please keep the secret for a little longer.”
Warner Bros. pumped $157 million (£100 million) into the facility after purchasing the site in late 2010.
“The journey to today began most obviously with the now-legendary story of an aspiring author, J.K. Rowling, translating her phenomenal imagination on to paper in the form of the Harry Potter series. But in another sense, the journey to today began way before, as this country has a long and proud literary and visual arts history – a history unmatched in the world for its variety, commercial success and longevity,” William said during a speech.
“Our capacity to produce brilliant works continued into the 20th century with the great British pioneers of film and TV, both here and in Hollywood,” he continued. “The London Olympics opening ceremony reminded us as a nation just how diverse, talented and entertaining the British creative industries have always been.”
Warner Bros. said its plans for its Creative Talent program, the bulk of which was announced Thursday on the eve of the Royal visit, has been given a thumbs up from the British government. Chancellor George Osborne said: “I welcome Warner Bros’ new skills and training initiative. It is great news for young people who want to gain experience or develop a career in this exciting sector and it is a sign of confidence in the U.K.”
The three annual Prince William Scholarships with BAFTA will assist talented people in need of financial support to study a post-graduate course in one of the three industries.
Successful applicants will each receive up to $16,000 (£10,000) to cover course fees and receive mentoring support, free access to BAFTA events around the U.K., and a funded work placement within the Warner Bros. group of companies.
The Prince William Scholarships form a key part of Warner Bros. Creative Talent, the studio’s U.K. wide investment program in skills and training for the U.K.’s creative industries.
BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry said: “We hope that the scholarship recipients will become the mentors of the future, and be in a position to give back to others from similar backgrounds.”
Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, described the partnership with BAFTA as “exciting” adding it will help provide “opportunities for talented young people to not only learn about, but also experience the broad range of sectors that both organizations are renowned for.”
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