William Wales M.A. collects his degree

Key points

• Prince William graduates from St Andrews with a 2:1 degree in geography

• The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles attend the ceremony

• Large crowd gathers outside university's Younger Hall to see the Royal party

Key quote

"Today is a very special day for me and I am delighted that I can share it with my family and, in particular with my grandmother, who has made such an effort to come, having been under the weather." - Prince William

Story in full THEY turned out in their hundreds, eagerly awaiting the chance to say farewell to a prince the people of St Andrews took to their hearts.

"Life's not going to be the same again," said 69-year-old Alice, who was the first to take up a position in North Street with her friends, Margaret and Martha.

It was dry and bright, but driving rain and a howling North Sea gale wouldn't have kept them at home.

"It's nice that people have left him to get on with his life," added Martha, 63. "Whenever I'm up town I always look out for him. We're all going to miss him."

They were, of course, referring to Prince William, who yesterday picked up his Master of Arts geography degree from St Andrews University.

Crowds lined the streets, with many residents looking out of their windows and standing in doorways eager to catch a glimpse of the Royal party.

Just after 10:20am, the Prince of Wales, wearing a grey suit, arrived at the university's Younger Hall with the young prince's stepmother, the Duchess of Rothesay.

The couple, who were received by Margaret Dean, the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, waved to the crowd before going inside.

Minutes later, the prince's grandparents arrived. The Queen gave a single wave to the crowd.

Watched by 800 guests and 260 fellow students, Prince William knelt in front of Sir Kenneth Dover, the university's chancellor, to be "capped".

The 23-year-old, who gained a 2:1 degree, received his academic accolade in the same ceremony as his girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

The duchess joined Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh as they sat with the Queen at the front of the lower balcony, leaning over slightly to find Prince William in his seat below, and grinning when they spotted him.

Ms Middleton, who sat five rows in front of the prince, graduated 80 ahead of him. Wearing a short black skirt and high heels under her gown, she was called to the stage as "Catherine Middleton" and smiled broadly afterwards as she returned to her seat.

She was listed in the graduation ceremony programme as "Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, Bucklebury, Berkshire - art history". The prince was listed as "William Wales, Tetbury, Gloucestershire - geography".

During the ceremony, Dr Brian Lang, the principal and vice-chancellor, told the graduands they may have met their future husband or wife during their time at the university.

To laughter, he said: "Our title as the top match-making university in Britain signifies so much that is good about St Andrews, so we rely on you to go forth from St Andrews and multiply - but in the positive sense that I earlier urged you to adopt."

Afterwards, as the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the duchess met geography students and their families in St Salvator's Quadrangle, Ms Middleton and her parents, Carole and Michael, kept their distance from the Royal party, chatting and taking photos.

Prince William told one guest: "I'm going into the big wide world - not just essays now."

The crowd, which had swelled to at least 2,000, cheered as the Queen emerged. She smiled broadly as she left with Prince Philip.

Soon afterwards, the new graduate, along with his father and stepmother, emerged to noisy cheers and applause.

Beaming, Prince William headed straight across the street to shake hands and chat to people in the crowd, while his father and stepmother joined the short walkabout.

Among those Prince William spoke to was Laura McLennan, from St Andrews, who was with her 14-week-old daughter, Chloe, and mother, Fiona.

Ms McLennan, 20, said: "He came across and patted Chloe on her head and said 'nice hat - I need one of those'. I just said 'congratulations' and he replied 'thank you very much'."

BACK IN THE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT

PRINCE William faces a very different life now that he has graduated, with the spotlight sure to be focused on the heir to the throne.

The media agreement to leave him alone while he was in education comes to an end after his graduation ball on Saturday.

As Peter Wilson, Fife's Chief Constable, put it, after Prince William, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Rothesay carried out a joint private engagement to thank the police for their protection work: "I suspect he'll miss it when he's gone. The spotlight will be on him now."

Press interest in Prince William is likely to be high when he embarks on work- experience placements after his summer break.

Clarence House yesterday said the prince would undertake this in the City, learn more about land management on a country estate and join a mountain rescue team.

Prince William, who is hoping to enlist in the army, has already passed his first round of tests to train at Sandhurst, like Prince Harry.

Ahead of his graduation ceremony yesterday, Prince William said: "I very much hope that these work placements will give me hands-on experience in three very different, but important areas."

He also expressed his sadness at leaving St Andrews, saying: "Today is a very special day for me and I am delighted that I can share it with my family and, in particular with my grandmother, who has made such an effort to come, having been under the weather."

He added: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at St Andrews and I shall be very sad to leave."