Prince George starts school

    Prince George
    Richard Pohle/The Times/PA Wire/PA Images

    Prince George arrived for his first day at big school this morning, accompanied by his father the Duke of Cambridge. The Duchess of Cambridge, who is currently pregnant with their third child, is suffering from a severe form of morning sickness – Hyperemesis Gravidarum – and was too unwell to attend. The little Prince was met by Helen Haslem, head of the lower school, with a handshake, before being shown to his new reception class.

    It’s all change for the Prince George this autumn, as he moves to the capital and starts at St Thomas’s School in Battersea. Royal biographer Marcia Moody reveals all

    For as long as he can remember, the Norfolk countryside has been home for Prince George, and for the past 18 months he has been happy at the Westacre Montessori School, but it’s all change now September is here! Exchanging wellies and walkies with Lupo the dog for pavement pounding and park life, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George, four, and Princess Charlotte, two, have recently relocated to their official residence of Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace.

    Although it’s not like the palace has a postage-stamp sized garden, it’s most definitely an urban property. The nearest green space is Kensington Gardens, which doesn’t afford the privacy of the grounds at Anmer Hall, or the surrounding Norfolk countryside. There, George has been able to race around outside with Lupo, help look after the chickens, visit the local farm shop with his mother, and go to the beach with granny Carole Middleton. Inevitably George’s education environment will be different, too, as he makes the transition between a small village nursery to a big school in the city.

    Thomas’s in Battersea seemed at first like a left field choice from William and Kate. After all, William and Harry’s old school, Wetherby, is closer, and Thomas’s itself has a school in Kensington. It’s likely though, that William and Kate wanted a mixed-gender environment for George so that Charlotte can join him later on, which meant all-boys Wetherby was out. And while Thomas’s Kensington goes up to the age of 11, its establishment in Battersea goes up to the age of 13, which suggests that instead of George going away to board at the age of eight, as William and Harry did, he may well stay at Thomas’s until he’s old enough for the likes of Eton, where his father was a pupil.

    The £6,000-a-term Thomas’s is a Christian school, but open to children of all faiths. It’s said that pupils are discouraged from having best friends as it could leave other children feeling ostracised, and there is a counsellor on staff, while ‘human ecology’ is used to track pupils’ progress. A letter that went out to parents in March, stated, ‘The Duke and Duchess have made it clear that they do not wish Prince George’s attendance at Thomas’s to change its aims, values or ethos in any way. They would like, as far as is possible, for him to enjoy the same education that all of our pupils receive and for them to join the school community as all of our new parents do’.

    Prince George
    Press Association/Chris Jackson

    One unavoidable matter, however, is that of security. This would have been agreed with the headmaster before the statement was released, and new security measures – including the fitting of bulletproof windows – were put in place over the summer. Kate has already indicated that she will be driving her son to school at least some of the time, but William, and possibly nanny Maria Borello, will be in the mix too, and George will always be accompanied by protection officers. Routines can be difficult for the royal family because doing the same things all the time can become a security risk, so it’s possible there may be different routes to school and no pattern as to which particular one is taken on any given day.

    George will certainly be enjoying a more modernised set-up to that experienced by his grandfather Prince Charles. Sixty years ago, Charles was home-educated until he went to Hill House in West London from the age of eight, so George’s experience will have more in common with his father’s 30 years ago, as William was the first future monarch to be in the public education system from the beginning. William attended Mrs Mynors nursery near Kensington Palace from the ages of three to five, and then nearby Wetherby School for the following three years. Something that George will have in common with both his father and grandfather is that he’s likely to spend frequent weekends in the country. Charles lived in Buckingham Palace but would go with his parents to Windsor Castle at weekends, while William was based at Kensington Palace during the week with his parents and Prince Harry, but come Friday they would head to Highgrove House in the Cotswolds. William, Kate, George and Charlotte are sure to continue to spend a lot of time
    at Anmer Hall.

    They will certainly have less privacy in London. In the three years they’ve lived in Norfolk there have been very few reports of the family in their daily lives. William has been able to work as an Air Ambulance pilot, and Kate has been able to be at home with the two children as much as possible. There would occasionally be pictures of Kate taking George to the park, or the Duke and Duchess on a date night at The Crown Inn, in East Rudham, but they were very few considering how long the family had been living there. Now there’s no countryside to get lost in, no tight-lipped locals to close ranks.

    They’re sure to find little favoured nooks and crannies to shop, eat out or take the children to though – after all, William has had one foot in London his whole life, Kate lived in the capital for five years post-uni, and the couple spent a year at Kensington Palace early in
    their marriage.

    Kate and William are now both full-time working members of the royal family and as Prince Philip retires from public life this autumn, Charles and William will be supporting the Queen even more. George himself went on his first UK engagement last year at the age of three, to the Royal International Air Tattoo, and although we won’t be seeing him navigating a royal walkabout any time soon, we will no doubt see both him and Charlotte popping up at appropriate engagements and charming the crowds, as ever, in the coming years.

    Want more? Look back at Prince George’s first day at nursery school