Back to school for Kate! Duchess of Cambridge joins in with St Andrew's Day celebrations at the prep school she 'adored' as a girl - wearing very apt tartan coat
- Kate attended St Andrew's in Pangbourne, Berkshire, from 1986 to 1995
- Revealed in a speech she was nicknamed Squeak after school's guinea pig
- Unveiled a plaque to open a new Astroturf hockey pitch
It was back to school for the Duchess of Cambridge today as she revisited her old preparatory school.
Kate, 30, 'adored' her time at St Andrew’s in Pangbourne, Berkshire, where she was a pupil from the ages of four to thirteen.
Just a short drive from her family home in Bucklebury, she was something of a star pupil at the exclusive £13,000-a-year establishment where she won awards for both sport and music.
The elegant royal, dressed in a very appropriate tartan coat-dress by Alexander McQueen, was revisiting the school, appropriately, on St Andrew’s Day, the annual celebration of the patron saint of Scotland, when the school traditionally observes a day of activities and festivities to mark the occasion.
In a speech, the Duchess of Cambridge revealed she had the nickname Squeak at school, named after the St Andrew's school guinea pig.
Back to school: The Duchess of Cambridge visited St Andrew's prep school, where she spent nine happy years as a girl, to join in their St Andrew's celebrations
Welcome guest: Kate, who wore a smart tartan coat that toned in beautifully with the uniform of St Andrew's, chatted to pupils before taking a tour of her old stomping ground
Bring back memories? Kate was given a tour of the school that she attended from 1986 to 1995. The Duchess also opened a new Astroturf hockey field at the school - an appropriate tribute given her passion for the sport
The Duchess is due to meet teachers and students privately over lunch before visiting the Pre-Prep school for Under-5s.
She will then formally open a new Astroturf playing field by unveiling a plaque and meet members of the school’s current hockey team.
Kate will tour the school privately before observing some the School’s ‘Progressive Games’, which are traditional games played indoors by the School’s teachers and students on St. Andrew’s Day.
Progressive games is a tradition stretching back since St Andrew’s School first opened. On St. Andrew’s Day, the staff set up a number of short, five minute games, and small groups of mixed-aged children progress around the games earning scores as they go. A winning team is declared at the end of the day.
The Mail has uncovered photographs of the Duchess during her time at the school, including a joyful picture of her leaping into the air with delight on the hockey pitch.
At the time Kate was aged 13 and celebrating an historic hockey victory with her school team.
Others show her playing rounders, netball and playing the flute.
Others show her playing rounders, netball and playing the flute.
According to one fellow pupil, Kate thrived in the school’s close-knit, family atmosphere.
She quickly became one of its most celebrated pupils, excelling at almost every form of sport including tennis, hockey, swimming, netball and rounders.
But she also threw herself into other aspects of school life, taking part in its public speaking competitions, pantomimes and plays. She enjoyed drama workshops during her summer holidays, learned ballet and tap and was a proficient flautist and singer.
Just a quick flick through one of the school's year books published in June 1995, her final year, demonstrates how Kate's star shone.
Happy time: Kate, seen here celebrating a victory on the hockey pitch, is said to have adored her time at St Andrew's school, where she excelled at sport and music
Page after page, her list of achievements grows longer. As well as her success with the Under 12/13 hockey team, she played goal defence for the Under 13 Netball team during one of its most successful ever seasons.
There was also the Under 12/13 rounders team for which Kate - listed under her full name Catherine Middleton - was named the highest scorer of the season.
She was also a keen swimmer and athlete. On sports day she won the Under 12/13 200m in 31.24 seconds and set records in both the long jump and high jump of 4.14metres and 1.39 metres respectively.
On prize giving day, her prowess was rewarded with the Calvert Cup for rounders and the Leslie Cup for outstanding overall sporting achievement for a girl.
Musically, Kate also proved to be extremely gifted - a talent she has so far managed to hide from public view.
She was a member of St Andrew's inaugural Chamber Orchestra and of the senior flute group - amusingly known as the Tootie-Flooties - along with her younger sister, Pippa. Friends say she was also deputy head chorister in the chapel choir and was once commended in a BBC carol competition.
Shortly before she left the school, she also passed her Associated Board Grade 111 flute examination with merit and also her Grade 1V and V singing.
One contemporary remembers Kate extremely fondly.
'She was a really lovely, warm girl who didn't have a bad bone in her body. I couldn't speak of her more highly,' they said.
'In some ways she was rather quiet and unassuming but she excelled on the sports field and was definitely one of our golden girls.
'While she may not have been one of the most outgoing pupils there, she was always cheerful, happy and surrounded by friends.
'We all used to spend lunchtimes climbing trees, playing tennis and roller-skating. It was quite an idyllic childhood really.'
The former classmate was also struck by the closeness of Kate's relationship with her parents, Michael and Carole, and siblings Pippa and James, saying: 'They were a lovely family, very tight and supportive.
'At the time they were living in quite an ordinary three-bedroomed house in the village of Bradfield Southend. Carole's business selling children's party goods had taken off enough for them to send her kids to private schools but their house was still very humble. Full of your typical family clutter.
'Carole was extremely supportive of all her children. She and Michael used to come to all Kate's sports matches to cheer her on and Carole always took part in the mother/daughter rounders match on sports day.'
Although they have not seen Kate for many years, her former classmate believes she will prove to be a 'breath of fresh air' for the Royal Family.
'It's rather surreal knowing that she will be Queen one day, but by all accounts she is as refreshingly normal as always,’ said one.
'It's still hard to imagine her becoming Queen one day, but I can tell you one thing, the royals are lucky to have her.'
MEMORIES OF THE GOOD OLD DAYS...
Sporty: Kate (front row, centre) was the highest scorer in the 12/13 rounders team at St Andrew's when she attended
Set for success: Kate (back row, centre) excelled at netball as well as hockey and rounders - and her height made her a demon Goal Defence
Team player: Kate (back row, third from left) by the swimming pool at St Andrew's
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