Witness: Studying at St Andrews with Britain's royal couple

Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:54pm EDT
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - It was a scene replicated across universities worldwide, when a proud father watches his son set out to make his mark, embarking on the studying as well as the partying that characterizes undergraduate life.

Accompanied by his father, Britain's Prince William arrived at St Andrews University in Scotland dressed like an average first year -- jeans, sweater and trainers.

But this was hardly the arrival of an ordinary fresher -- police brought traffic to a halt for his entrance and hundreds lined the streets to wish him well in his studies.

I was in my second year at St Andrews University when the future king of England arrived in September 2001. But the small windswept picturesque town along the eastern Scottish coast had long been feeling the full force of the "William effect."

Within days after it was announced in August 2000 that William would be studying art history at St Andrews, the world's attention turned to the town of 16,000, better known for its golf courses, clean beaches and historical buildings.

I had got my place at St Andrews in July that year and in one month, questions like "Where exactly is St Andrews?" turned into "So you will you be there at the same time as the prince?"

The university was inundated with calls as prospective students -- mostly girls -- realized they might have a chance to study alongside William. Figures released at the time showed UK applications surged by 44 percent while overseas applications

-- many from the United States -- soared by 100 percent.   Continued...

<p>Kate Middleton and Prince William on their graduation day at St Andrews University,June 23, 2005. REUTERS/The Middleton Family, 2011</p>