A NERVOUS Prince George clutched his dad’s hand on his first day at school. The Duchess of Cambridge was too sick to attend.
There were no tears but the four-year-old prince looked apprehensive today as he arrived at the gates of the prestigious co-educational Thomas’s at Battersea, south of the Thames.
His father Prince William accompanied him on his special day, but his mother Catherine, who is pregnant with her third child, remained too ill with extreme morning sickness and was unable to attend.
“Unfortunately The Duchess of Cambridge remains unwell, and will not be able to accompany Prince George on his first day of school,’’ a Palace spokesman said.
Prince William helped his son out of the car and held his hand as they walked into the school, with William carrying his son’s satchel.
On a crisp London autumn day, the little prince was wearing a cute uniform of navy Bermuda shorts and a v-neck navy jumper.
Prince George, the third in line to the throne, was greeted as he arrived by Thomas’s Head of Lower School Helen Haslem, who then escorted the royal pair to Prince George’s reception classroom. Ms Haslem shook hands with George and with Prince William before taking George’s other hand and walking him into the classroom.
As part of an on-going agreement to protect the privacy of the prince and his little sister Princess Charlotte, 2, the royals had arranged for Prince George’s first day of school to be photographed and broadcast to the public.
The first day of school photo is a rite of passage for all royals since Prince Charles, George’s grandfather, became the first English royal to be educated outside Buckingham Palace, in 1957.
George is now expected to be allowed to attend school in relative obscurity, as Princes William and Harry did in an agreement struck between the palace and the British media after the death of their mother Princess Diana in 1997.
The school, at Battersea south of the Thames, is about a 40-minute drive from the family’s home at Kensington Palace in morning traffic, and is a select-entry school with 560 students aged four to 13.
His parents, who often drive themselves around London, are likely to do the school run themselves as often as they can, with the impeccable Duchess sure to turn heads amongst the other mums at the school gate.
Thomas’s charges fees of almost $30,000 annually, and its graduates often end up attending top-tier learning institutions such as Eton.
It has three other outposts across London, boasts a theatre, a gymnasium, a ballet room, pottery room and two libraries.
Other high-profile students who have attended Thomas’s include the model Cara Delevingne and her sisters Poppy and Chloe. Florence Welch, the singer from Florence and the Machine, also went to Thomas’s.
Prince George’s enrolment at Thomas’s surprised traditionalists, who had expected him to follow in the footsteps of his father and uncle and attend the all-boys Wetherby School, down the road from Kensington Palace.
On Tuesday — a day after it was announced they are expecting their third child — William said Kate was well, but admitted: “There’s not much sleep going on at the moment.” He said: “We need Catherine to get over this first bit and then we can start celebrating.
“It’s always a bit anxious to start with, but she’s well.” Prince George were due to be greeted by Helen Haslem, head of lower school, on their arrival at the school gates. They will then be escorted to his reception classroom.
George and his classmates will be taught a range of subjects and activities from ballet and art to drama, French, music and physical education. Kate has already said she is not sure her son “has any idea what’s going to hit him’‘ when he starts school.