Hollywood stars including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt rubbed shoulders with British royalty on Sunday at the Bafta awards, the highlight of the British film calendar and a key indicator for the upcoming Oscars.

The superstar couple made an unexpected appearance on the red carpet in matching tuxedos and signed autographs for hordes of fans camped outside London's Royal Opera House.

The event was attended by Bafta president Prince William and was hosted for a ninth time by actor Stephen Fry.

He opened proceedings with a tribute to Helen Mirren, who received an Academy Fellowship for outstanding contribution to film - the Bafta's highest accolade.

Fry joked that the actress -- who has played Queen Elizabeth II on stage and screen -- had “this year brought her grandson along. Welcome his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge”.

The British capital has recently suffered freak storms, but conditions were fine if cold on Sunday, allowing stars to dazzle on the red carpet.

Mirren wore a navy blue dress with chiffon sleeves while fellow dame Judi Dench, nominated for best actress, wore a dark velvet gown with turquoise cuffs.

Oscar-winner Emma Thompson arrived wrapped up in a red dress and white coat with a huge furry collar, while “American Hustle” star Amy Adams posed for photographers in a floor-length black gown from Victoria Beckham.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale and Tom Hanks, all nominated in the Best Actor category, were also among the stars in London for the event.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards are a useful guide to which way the Academy Awards might go on March 2. - AFP