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No sign of mum, but prince in safe hands as he starts school

By Sally Wardle

The Duke of Cambridge said Prince George's first day at school went smoothly after he was forced to manage parenting duties alone.

The Duchess of Cambridge had hoped to join William on the school run yesterday but is suffering from severe morning sickness and was too ill to attend, Kensington Palace said.

But William said the day "went well" and joked that he was pleased another parent had problems with their children rather than him.

He made the comments at a Kensington Palace reception for the England Under-20 football team - just hours after dropping his four-year-old son at Thomas's Battersea, a fee-paying independent school in south London.

The Duke told head coach Paul Simpson it had been a "good day".

He said: "It went well. There was one other parent who had more of an issue with their child - so I was quite pleased I wasn't the one."

William added: "It was really nice actually. It's a nice school."

The Prince, who will be known as George Cambridge to his classmates, was helped out of the car by William after being driven inside the school gates at around 8.45am.

George, wearing a shirt, navy V-neck pullover, shorts and black shoes, looked tentative and clutched his father's hand as he was led towards the entrance.

The youngster shook hands with Helen Haslem, head of the lower school, as the Duke held a school bag packed ready for his first day. Then, with William holding one hand and Ms Haslem the other, he walked inside.

Ben Thomas, who is principal of Thomas's London Day Schools and was headmaster of Thomas's Battersea for 18 years, said he hoped future king George would learn to "be himself".

He said: "The whole aim of these precious early years of education is to give children that confidence in who they are.

"So we are not going to try to mould him into any kind of particular person and we wouldn't do that with any of our pupils.

"I hope he will have the confidence to be himself with all his quirks and his idiosyncrasies."

Along with his classmates, George spent his first day getting to know teachers, adults and other children as well as completing the important task of finding his classroom peg.

He has been placed in a class of 21 pupils -one of three reception groups that are connected by a folding "carousel" door which is opened to allow group play three times a week.

Mr Thomas, whose parents founded the school, said the prince will begin by attending school for half-days and build up to longer hours.

He said George would not be given "any special treatment at all" and it is understood William and Kate will try to do the school run as often as possible.

The school, where fees cost from £17,604 a year, has been described by the Good Schools Guide as: "A big, busy, slightly chaotic school for cosmopolitan parents who want their children to have the best English education money can buy. That is what they want and, to a large degree, that is what they get."

George and his classmates will be taught a range of subjects and activities from ballet and art to drama, French, music and PE.

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