William makes the grade

Prince wins college choice with best royal exam marks in 33 years
Education Unlimited

Prince Charles yesterday sent an email of congratulations to Prince William, currently on exercise with the Welsh Guards in the jungles of Belize, after his eldest son was awarded A, B and C grades in his A-levels - good enough to secure his place at St Andrews University.

The prince, who left Eton last month, was awarded the A for geography, B for history of art and C for biology. The results were conveyed to him by his former housemaster and St Andrews graduate, Andrew Gailey.

After taking a gap year, to be spent partly in Australia, the prince is expected to become the first member of the royal family to study at a Scottish university. He will go up in the autumn of 2001, reading for a four year history of art honours degree. The entry requirements are normally two Bs and a C.

For a young man whose family have Rembrandts, Vermeers, Canalettos and Van Dycks hanging on the walls at home, course work and vacation studies should not pose a problem. The course, described in the university's prospectus as visually stimulating and intellectually challenging, is unlikely to be damned by the chief education inspector as vacuous.

Prince Charles said: "I know how hard William worked to achieve these excellent results and I am very proud that he has done so well."

In a statement from St James's Palace, the prince was said to be "obviously delighted and relieved that he has got into St Andrews" and very much looking forward to becoming a student there.

His grades - added to 10 GCSEs, eight of them As and two Bs, two years ago - appear to be the best achieved by a member of the royal family since they submitted to public examinations 33 years ago when Prince Charles obtained a C in French and a B in history in his A-levels.

The choice of St Andrews, as opposed to Cambridge which members of the royal family have traditionally attended for the past 150 years, was apparently Prince William's own. Edinburgh and Bristol were also considered.

Both his father and uncle Edward read history at Cambridge and both faced accusations of favouritism from contemporaries, something that William should not have to face.

The choice of the oldest Scottish university will certainly ease palace security headaches, situated as it is in a small and intimate coastal town remote from the metropolis. It is also far away from the normal beat of paparazzi and the nearest nightclub is in Dundee.

About 60% of its intake is from state schools. It may be the first time the prince will have met state school contemporaries.

A spokesman for the university said St Andrews would provide a "unique, nourishing and challenging environment" for Prince William.

"We are pleased for him as we are for all successful applicants and look forward to welcoming him to our community," he said.

Alex Salmond, outgoing leader of the Scottish National party and a St Andrews graduate, said the prince would assist the university's international reputation and it was a sensible choice for him to have made.

But he added: "The university will have to reinforce its efforts to make sure Scotland's oldest university is seen as a people's university, not just for the privileged."

How other royals fared:

Prince William has proved himself to be one of the brightest members of the modern royal family, his three good A-levels coming after three A*s, five As and two Bs at GCSE two years ago.

His father, the Prince of Wales, who was the first member of the royal family to sit public examinations, got two A-levels - a B in history and a C in french - after passing five O-Levels (he failed maths). But he had no say in his choice of university. A committee including Harold Wilson, the prime minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Windsor, the chairman of the committee of university vice-chancellors and Lord Mountbatten chose Cambridge for him, where he got a 2:2.

Prince William's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, did not take any A-levels and once told a 15-year-old boy that she could not answer a Trivial Pursuit question because she was as thick as a plank.

The Princess Royal obtained an E in geography and D in history in her A-levels in 1968 but she did not go to university.

The Duke of York gained three A-levels in 1979 - in history, english and economics and political science - and in 1982 the Earl of Wessex received two - in english literature and economics and political science, plus an S-Level in history. Buckingham Palace refused to divulge grades attained by princes Andrew and Edward yesterday, saying "the examinations were harder then and the marking different".

Other A level highlights:

•Adam Spencer, 10, from Arlesey in Bedfordshire, is likely to be the youngest A-level success. He achieved a grade B in maths after taking adult education courses at Luton sixth form college. "I was actually hoping for an A but I'm very pleased with a B," he said. He intends to go to university at 14 to read maths. Brian Edwards, deputy principal of the college, said they had accepted Adam after other schools refused to take him because of his age.

•Sameer Sanghvi, 12, from Finchley, north London, got a grade C in computing from Ryde College, Watford.

•Terry Tyacke, 74, extended his world record by passing his 27th A-level exam, scoring an A grade in film studies. He left school at 15 with no qualifications and took his first exam aged 46, to encourage his daughter. "I can't stop, it's like a drug and I am addicted," said Mr Tyacke, of Trowbridge, Wilts.

•Tamara Todorovic, a refugee from Bosnia who could not speak English when she arrived in Britain with her family in 1993, has gained three As at A-level. She is leaving Bishop Stopford school in Kettering, Northants, for Warwick University.

•German Michael Tyka went to Culford School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in September 1998, supposedly for a term to brush up his English, but decided to stay on and won 6 A grades at A-level, in maths, biology, chemistry, physics, general studies and German. He will read biochemistry at Imperial college, London.

•At Conyers school, a comprehensive in Stockton on Tees, Alan Elder made it into his exam board's top five performers in both maths and further maths. He is going to Cambridge University to read engineering.

•Christopher Cummins of Our Lady Sion School in Worthing, Sussex, achieved five grade As at A-level, which he sat when aged 16. His passes were in maths with statistics, pure maths, mechanics, chemistry and physics. He also gained grade 1 in two Cambridge Step papers. Christopher, who also has nine A's at GCSE, plans to take up his place at Trinity College, Cambridge, next year, after a gap year in banking. His school, an independent day school, said his mathematical abilities made him "probably one of the best students in the country in his age range".

•Two students from Brockenhurst College in the New Forest - an open access "tertiary" college - gained five grade As at A-level and a distinction at S-level. Matthew Findlay from Hythe and James Kermode from Lymington got the top passes in maths, physics, chemistry, further maths and general studies. Both are taking up places at Cambridge. The college reported record results this year, with 24 students achieving three or more grade As at A-level including eight students with four grade As. In 10 subjects at least half the candidates gained passes at grades A or B.

•Students at Kendrick girls' school in Reading were celebrating after winning national plaudits in their subjects. Three girls at the leading grammar school won awards from their examination board for coming in the top five in the country in their subjects. And 17 students at the school, which has consistently topped the league tables, got straight As. Claire Hall, 18, who got three As in sociology, English and religious studies, was ranked by the AQA board within the top five nationally in sociology, along with classmate Jessica Swaile. And Sarah Abram, who came in the top five candidates nationwide in German, got straight As in English literature, sociology and French.


Stephen Bates

The GuardianTramp

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