PRINCE William has returned to university to begin a bespoke course in agriculture which will prepare him for inheriting the vast Duchy of Cornwall estate.
Beginning his studies at Cambridge University yesterday, the Duke of Cambridge travelled by public transport from London’s King’s Cross station.
He is expected to make the 46-minute journey for the agricultural management course several days a week but will also have access to overnight accommodation in Cambridge.
William, 31, will inherit the duchy, which consists of around 53,000 hectares of land in 23 counties, when Prince Charles accedes to the throne.
Wearing a navy blue suit, William looked relaxed as he toured the grounds of St John’s College yesterday.
The duke was greeted by vice-chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, along with Master of St John’s, Professor Christopher Dobson, and Polly Courtice, director of the Programme for Sustainability Leadership.
The course, which will end in March, has been designed specifically for him but will see him study alongside ordinary PhD students in some classes.
He will have 20 hours of teaching time each week, including work in small groups, as well as one-to-one tuition and his own additional reading. The duke will also go on a series of field trips.
He will be taught by academics specialising in geography, land economy and plant sciences. Modules he is expected to study include rural and planning policy, farming and supply chains, site management, agricultural policy and conservation governance.
One of the university’s student newspapers, the Tab, has been among those to question whether William, who achieved a 2:1 honours in his geography degree from St Andrews University in 2005, had the qualifications to study at Cambridge.
In a recent article, it wrote: “The Tab must point out that normally students need A*AA at A-level to gain entry to Cambridge, whilst the prince only achieved a mediocre ABC.”
But officials at the university have pointed out that it commonly offers bespoke courses to those who are willing to fund their studies privately.
Professor Ross Anderson, of the university’s computer laboratory, said he and his colleagues should be free to design courses for those prepared to pay and they should not “be discriminated against on account of the circumstances of their birth”.
He added: “Whether they have any A-levels at all is no more relevant than the price of tea in China.”
His course has been organised by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and follows the end of his service as an RAF rescue helicopter pilot on the island of Anglesey.
Dr Cynthia McVey, a psychologist based at Glasgow Caledonian University, said it was common for new parents such as the duke to look to take on safer roles in support of their family.
“In general terms, young single people are more likely to take risks – they think they are invincible,” she said. “However, when you have children, you start to think what might happen to them if anything happens to you. You start to consider your own mortality.
“If you are a person who has lost a parent when you are very young, then you are aware of the profound impact of that loss and the emotional impact of bereavement. You know what it’s like to lose someone and you don’t want your own child to suffer their own loss and carry that with them.”