Prince George starts first day of school

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Media captionPrince George held his father’s hand as he arrived for his first day at school

Prince George has started his first day at school – but his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, missed the occasion as she was not well enough to take him.

The Duke of Cambridge dropped him off as Kensington Palace said Catherine, who is suffering from severe morning sickness, was still unwell.

The four-year-old is attending Thomas’s Battersea, an £18,000-a-year preparatory school in London.

His uniform includes navy shorts and jacket, long red socks and black shoes.

The milestone for the prince comes after the duke and duchess this week announced they are expecting their third child.

Catherine had to pull out of public engagements on Monday and Tuesday because she is suffering from hypremesis gravidarum, as with her previous two pregnancies.

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Kensington Palace

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Prince William and Prince George were greeted by head of lower school Helen Haslem

Prince William drove his son through the school gates before helping him out of the car.

The duke carried Prince George’s bag and held his hand as the pair walked up to the entrance.

Father and son were then greeted by Helen Haslem, head of lower school, and the young prince shook her hand before being accompanied to his first class.

Prince William told Ms Haslem that George had been eagerly watching and he had “noticed” the other boys going into the school in their uniforms.

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Prince George, four, is attending Thomas’s Battersea in south-west London

George has joined a class of 20 other pupils and has his own desk and peg with his name on. He will begin by doing half days as a “gentle” introduction to school life.

Ben Thomas, principal of Thomas’s London Day Schools, said there would be no special treatment for the royal, but lots of planning had gone into his attendance to ensure as little disruption as possible to other pupils.

“We are going to try and make this a really happy, safe and secure time,” he said.

“The whole aim of these precious years of early education is to give children that confidence in who they really are.

“We are not going to try and mould him into any kind of particular person. I hope he will have the confidence to be himself with all his quirks and his idiosyncrasies and characteristics – that’s what I would want for all of our children.”

Mr Thomas added: “The global spotlight has been a little bit daunting but that will move on and we are looking forward to a time when he is just another Thomas’s pupil.”

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Prince William was taken to his first day of school at Wetherby by his mother, Princess Diana

Prince George is following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, Prince Harry, who both attended preparatory school at a young age.

Notable alumni at Thomas’s Battersea include pop singer Florence Welch – from Florence and the Machine – model and actress Cara Delevingne and Fresh Meat star Charlotte Ritchie.

His new school was described by the Good Schools Guide as: “A big, busy, slightly chaotic school for cosmopolitan parents who want their children to have the best English education money can buy.”

Previously, Prince George attended nursery at the Westacre Montessori School, in Norfolk.

However, his move to London coincides with the duke and duchess’s decision to begin moving their main residence to Kensington Palace, as Prince William takes on more royal duties.

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Thomas’s Battersea is considered a feeder school for public schools like Eton, Westminster and Marlborough

Prince George, who is often pictured wearing shorts and knee-high socks, continues this sartorial staple at Thomas’s.

Pupils in reception class wear red polo neck shirts, navy Bermuda shorts and knee-high red socks with navy trimming.

The prince will also wear a v-neck jersey emblazoned with the Thomas’s emblem, as well as a navy jacket.

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Former headmaster Ben Thomas said the school was “honoured” to have been chosen by the royals.

One cameraman and one photographer were at the school to capture the moment, as Prince William has previously pleaded for the press to respect his son’s privacy.

‘Goldfish bowl’

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said: “William is determined to give his family as much privacy as possible and have a life as ‘normal’ as possible but this is extremely difficult.

“The royals have made several complaints to IPSO [the Independent Press Standards Organisation].

“They are in the royal ‘goldfish bowl’ and will continue to be the centre of national and international fascination.”

Princes William and Harry – who were also photographed on their first days at school – went to the Wetherby School in Kensington, before both going on to Eton College, in Berkshire.

Their father, Prince Charles, was initially educated at home by a governess, but later attended the Cheam Preparatory School, in Berkshire.

No media frenzy as royals plead for privacy

By Peter Hunt, royal correspondent

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There was a media frenzy when Prince William and Prince Harry began at Wetherby School

When Prince George enters the school building, at the start of his first day there, the moment will be captured by one photographer and one camera crew.

When his father made a similar journey, to a different school, three decades ago, many more members of the media were present to record a fresh developmental stage in the life of a future king.

Prince William remembers and doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

George’s schooling will be the latest test of the Cambridges’ wary relationship with the press. They expect reporters to respect the privacy of their son and his classmates.

Attending school is a relatively new phenomenon for the House of Windsor.

Boarding school was ruled out for the home-educated Queen over fears she couldn’t be “protected from bad influences”.

And Prince Charles’s first teacher – before going to school aged eight – was a governess who taught him in a room at Buckingham Palace that contained a blackboard and a desk.

Read more from Peter

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