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Prepare for the ultimate historical adventure as over 2,000 costumed performers bring the story of England to life over one action-packed weekend14th – 15th July 2012

HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2012

Bringing over 2,000 years of history to life, Festival of History 2012 is packed full of spectacular battle re-enactments, awesome combat displays and celebrations of daily life through the ages.

MAIN ARENA

  • The 1066 Battle of Hastings (NEW!) – Sat & Sun, 12.30pm
    For the first time at Festival of History, re-live the atmosphere and tension of one of England’s most famous conflicts, and witness the making of the most famous date in our history.
  • The Battle of Stoke Field – Sat & Sun, 11am
    See the last bloody battle of the Wars of the Roses brought to life, as the Tudor age begins and Henry VII takes the English crown.
  • Drop Zone D-Day – Sat & Sun, 4pm
    We’ve a surprise in the skies to help our heroes on the ground in a World War Two battle re-enactment.
  • Prince Malik’s Lancers – Sat & Sun, 1pm
    A favourite with all the family, enjoy this truly spectacular show of unparalleled horsemanship and skill.

PARADE GROUND

  • The Roman Imperial Army – Sat & Sun, 12.15pm & 3pm
    Witness the might and power of the Roman Empire, with a trip back to the 1st century AD.
  • Medieval Joust Tournament – Sat & Sun, 2pm
    A firm favourite returning for 2012, cheer on your champion in the 15th century full-contact joust.
  • The War of 1812 (NEW!) – Sat & Sun, 11.30am
    In the year of the Bicentenary we remember the epic conflict, fought on land and sea between the new United States of America and the British Empire.
  • Victorian Gymkhana – Sat & Sun, 11am
    Watch in wonder as our elegant Ladies and Gentlemen dazzle you with displays of skill and bravery in this Victorian equestrian show

LIVING HISTORY

  • Gladiators! – Are you ready? With awesome hand-to-hand combat displays, our Gladiators keep the ferocious ancient sport alive. And there isn’t a ‘travelator’ in sight!
  • Edwardian Falconry – Marvel at the breathtaking speed and grace of falcons in flight, learn about the history of these magnificent birds of prey and their use throughout the Edwardian era.
  • First World War Music Hall (NEW!)- If the action in the main arena gets too much, escape for a good old sing song in the First World War Music Hall. (Please note that this will replace the Victorian Music Hall previously advertised.)
  • Second World War Vintage Fashion & Beauty (NEW!) – Fancy a new look? Pick up some wartime tricks and tips at these new demonstrations of fashion from the ’40s.

AND MUCH MORE!

  • First World War Trench Experience – Extended for 2012, experience what life would have been like in the Great War in the recreated First World War trench.
  • Festival of Historical Writing – Back by popular demand!
  • Family Zone – From creating giant historical street scenes in the Family Activity Tent to sandcastle building on the Victorian Beach, there’s plenty for all the family to enjoy together.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/foh-2012/

HisTOURies UK
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After hunting for buried treasure for three decades – and not finding a great deal – even the most diligent of us might have given up.

But not Reg Mead and Richard Miles. The two amateur metal detectors kept up their search of the same area throughout the decades and have finally struck gold – or rather silver.

A coin in the hand: Archaeologists believe the hoard, found by two metal detectors, is worth about £10million

A coin in the hand: Archaeologists believe the hoard, found by two metal detectors, is worth about £10million

 

They have unearthed the largest hoard of Celtic coins ever found. Each one of the 30,000–50,000 coins is estimated to be worth around £200 each, putting the value of the haul at up to £10milion

  • Coins were buried to protect them from Julius Caesar
  • Three-quarter ton hoard estimated to be worth £10m
  • Two enthusiasts searched for three decades in field in Jersey

They are thought to be from the first century BC and were found buried 3ft deep under a hedge in a farmer’s field on Jersey.

Two thousand years ago the Channel Island – which remains a popular spot to stash large sums of money –  was a refuge for tribes fleeing what is now northern France from the invading Roman armies.

As the legions of Julius Ceasar drew closer, the treasure is thought to have been buried by a Celtic tribe called the Coriosolitae, in the hope it could be dug up once the danger had passed.

And there the coins – packed in clay and weighing a ton – have remained undisturbed until last week.

The men who discovered them, Mr Mead, 70, and Mr Miles, a customs officer in his 40s, suspected treasure was in the area three decades ago, when they heard rumours a farmer had found some silver pieces on his land. After a series of largely unsuccessful forays in the area, they unearthed a stash of 120 coins in February.

Mr Mead, a grandfather who lives with wife Ruth in St Clement, Jersey, said: ‘Richard found the first one and it was amazing – when you see him raising his hand above his head (saying) “got one”.’

The pair used a powerful metal detector known as a deepseeker to search for more treasure in the field and struck lucky last week

‘The machine picked up a really strong signal – so we immediately got in touch with professional archaeologists,’ Mr Mead said. ‘They started digging and we could not believe how many coins there were.

‘All of them were stuck together. I have been searching for things like this since 1959 and never found anything on this scale before.

‘We had been searching that land for 30 years.’

After four days of careful digging the hoard was hauled to the surface by crane. It will now be subject of an inquest to determine ownership rights

Mr Mead added: ‘I am absolutely numb at the moment. To find one haul of coins in a lifetime is rare, but to find two is just unheard of.’

The location of the find is being kept secret.

Neil Mahrer of Jersey Heritage Museum, who helped to excavate the money, said: ‘This is the biggest Celtic coin hoard ever found which is tremendously exciting.’

The previous record find was in 1935 at La Marquanderie in Jersey when more than 11,000 were discovered.

Mr Mahrer added that the coins, which are called staters and quarter staters, weigh as much as a 50p piece.

‘All the coins are silver and a common theme is a picture of a man or god’s head on one side of the coin and a horse on the other,’ he said. ‘They are covered in green corrosion because the silver is mixed with copper and copper corrodes. But they should come up again in a good condition.’

Dr Philip de Jersey, a former Celtic coin expert at Oxford University, said: ‘The find is very significant. It will add a huge amount of new information, not just about the coins themselves, but the people who were using them.’

Article by By COLIN FERNANDEZ – Daily Mail

HisTOURise UK
The Best Tours in British History

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More than 30,000 Roman coins were found by archaeologists working in Bath in 2007, it has been revealed.

The silver coins are believed to date from 270AD and have been described as the fifth largest UK hoard ever found.

The coins were found close to the Roman Baths

The coins were found close to the Roman Baths

The coins are fused together and were sent to the British Museum. Conservators are expected to take at least a year to work through them.

A campaign has now been started at the Roman Baths to try to raise £150,000 to acquire and display them.

The size of the find is not as large as the Frome Hoard in April 2010 when more than 53,500 coins were discovered by metal detectorist Dave Crisp near Frome in Somerset.

The coins found in this hoard date from a similar time and are thought to be the largest ever discovered in a Roman town in the UK.

Roman Baths spokesman Stephen Clews said: “We’ve put in a request for a formal valuation and then hope to buy the coins to display them at the baths.

“At the time there was a lot of unrest in the Roman Empire so there may be some explanation for why the coins were hidden away.

“The find is also unusual as it was discovered by professional archaeologists as opposed to an amateur using a metal detector,” he added.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-17480016

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For a 200-year-old literary figure, Charles Dickens has much to say about the issues of today.

So believes Queen’s University English Prof. Robert Morrison, who says Dickens — born Feb. 7, 1812 — was both a man of his times and a forward-thinker.

In his many novels — including such classics as “A Christmas Carol,” “David Copperfield” and “Oliver Twist” — Dickens wrote about issues that still resonate today.

Morrison says Dickens brought attention to child poverty, over-population, environmental degradation and greed.

The popular storyteller’s 200th birthday is being celebrated Tuesday by admirers around the world.

Morrison says Dickens, who visited Canada briefly while on a reading tour, was the most popular author of his day and known world-wide.

“He is a man of his time but … he does map in a lot of what still preoccupies us today.”

“One of the things that I find really compelling about Dickens is his discussion of and sympathy for the vulnerable in society, especially children.”

Dickens was able to depict 19th-century Britain as a powerful country at the forefront of progress and technology, Morrison said.

But as Dickens so cleverly put it: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of wealth and there are a whole bunch of people who are not sharing in any of it,” said Morrison.

“That alienation and sadness in the lower classes among poor people, Dickens gives these people an incredibly powerful voice.”

While a master at creating entertaining stories, comical characters and biting caricatures, the 19th-century writer also had his finger on the pulse of his times, says Morrison.

“Dickens represents alienation and poverty with a vividness and a chillingness that is remarkable. He really is very socially minded.”

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca

HisTOURies UK – Who the Dickens

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A medieval barn described by the poet John Betjeman as the ‘cathedral of Middlesex’ has been rescued from decay and neglect for the nation, English Heritage said today.

Grade I-listed Harmondsworth Barn in west London joins the likes of Stonehenge, Osborne House and parts of Hadrian’s Wall in the national collection of historic sites and monuments under the guardianship of English Heritage.

Historic: The exquisite oak structure was created by skilled carpenters, whose signature marks can still be seen, in the 15th Century

Historic: The exquisite oak structure was created by skilled carpenters, whose signature marks can still be seen, in the 15th Century

Built by Winchester College in 1426, the barn would have been used to store grain from the surrounding manor, owned by the Bishop of Winchester, with profits from the produce used to pay for the school

The structure resembles the nave of a large church, standing at nearly 60 metres (200ft) long, 12 metres (40ft) wide, and 11 metres (36ft) high, with 13 huge oak trusses resting on stone blocks holding up the roof.

While it has had some repairs over the years, most recently by English Heritage to make it weather-proof and keep out pigeons, the structure is largely as it was built, with the timber and stones still bearing original carpenter and mason marks.

The oak-framed barn, which the heritage agency said ranks alongside the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace for its historic value, was used up until the 1970s but fell into disrepair in the ownership of an offshore company which had bought it in 2006

It is thought the purchase by a Gibraltar-based company for £1 was a speculative one, as the barn stands just metres from where Heathrow’s third runway – had it gone ahead – would have been built.

In 2009, English Heritage became concerned about the barn’s deteriorating condition and issued an urgent works notice for emergency repairs to keep it water and wind-tight.

The barn became known as “Cathedral of Middlesex”

A dispute over payment for the emergency works led to English Heritage buying the barn, which lies between the M25 and M4 motorways, for £20,000.

The barn’s precarious state was publicised in 2009 when building-preservation journal Cornerstone published an article on the gaping holes and disrepair.

Michael Dunn, historic buildings inspector for English Heritage, said the building was the best preserved and largest surviving medieval timber barn in England, probably in Europe.

It is the ninth largest in Europe he said, adding that ‘for its size , and its state of preservation, it is unique.’

‘This is high status, this is the finest timber, and a very confident carpenter. This is as good as it gets,’ he said.

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: ‘Harmondsworth Barn is one of the greatest medieval buildings in Britain, built by the same skilled carpenters who worked on our magnificent medieval cathedrals.

‘Its rescue is at the heart of what English Heritage does – protecting this nation’s architectural treasures and helping people discover our national story through them.

‘We will complete the repair of this masterpiece and, working with local people, will open it to the public to enjoy.’

A local group, the Friends of the Great Barn at Harmondsworth, formed around six years ago and have been dedicated to preserving the building, researching its history and keeping up the interest in its future, opening it each year to around 400-500 visitors during the Open House weekend.

The barn will now be open for free two Sundays a month between April and October, staffed by volunteers, with plans to open it every Sunday from next year.

Phil Rumsey, chairman of the group, said: ‘After working to save the barn over the last six years, it is wonderful that English Heritage have rescued this much-loved building. It will provide a great lift to the community.’

Archaeologist Justine Bayley told The Guardian: ‘If we had a pound for everyone who walks in here and says “wow!” we could have re-roofed the building twice over. It’s really the only appropriate response.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093598/Medieval-barn-described-cathedral-Middlesex-joins-Stonehenge-national-collection-historical-sites.html#ixzz1kxEY35Ci

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VisitWiltshire has launched a new handy sized Wiltshire Downs & Market Towns pocket guide and map, offering helpful information as part of an on-going campaign to attract and retain visitors to the county.
Wilsthire White Horse

The 24-page pocket guide details a host of attractions and activities to suit all ages, with information about events and festivals, food and drink, history and heritage, and the great outdoors.

David Andrews Chief Executive of VisitWiltshire highlighted the need for the guide: “This new guide is all part of the work we’re doing to celebrate the diversity of the county’s tourism product and to raise the profile of Wiltshire as a must-see holiday destination.  This is a new title for us and I’m particularly pleased that we’ve had such strong support in producing this guide from the local travel industry.”

The Wiltshire Downs are home to some of the UK’s most exciting and iconic attractions including:

The White Horses cut into the chalk hillside
The Ridgeway long distance path, which has been called the oldest road in Britain
Crofton Pumping Station, which houses the oldest working beam engine in the world
Caen Hill locks, arguably the most impressive flight of locks in the UK
Avebury, one of the most important Megalithic monuments in Europe consisting of 200 standing stones in two great circles.  This is combined with a massive bank and ditch which covers more than 28 acres
The new guide is split into clear sections making it easy for visitors to find just what they are looking for.  Amongst the highlights are events listings, suggestions for days out and plenty of pages dedicated to food and drink.  There is also a map showing the location of each individual attraction and activity.

David Dawson, Chair of Devizes Area Tourism Partnership and Director of Wiltshire Heritage Museum said, “We are delighted that VisitWiltshire has produced this timely new Wiltshire Towns & Market Towns Pocket Guide.  Given all the changes to tourism in Devizes lately it’s fantastic to see VisitWiltshire proactively targeting new visitors in this way, informing them of the best to see and do in the area.  Many of our attractions are now acting as mini tourist information centres and will be stocking the guide for anyone to use.”

As well as local circulation, the print run of 30,000 copies will be distributed proactively as part of VisitWiltshire’s marketing drive to bring additional visitors to the county.  Additional content is available to visitors online at www.visitwiltshire.co.uk.

Copies of the free ‘Pocket Guide and Map’ are available from VisitWiltshire by calling 0845 602 7323 or can be downloaded from the internet by visiting www.visitwiltshire.co.uk.

 The Best Tours in Wessex
HisTOURies UK – Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

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Penelope Keith hosts To The Manor Reborn at AveburyA manor house in Wiltshire is to be completely restored for a new BBC One series presented by Penelope Keith.

Avebury Manor House

Avebury Manor House

The four hour-long episodes will see the National Trust property Avebury Manor refurbished by a team of historians, experts, and volunteers.

Keith, who played snobbish aristocrat Audrey fforbes-Hamilton in the sitcom To The Manor Born, will be joined by Flog It! presenter Paul Martin.

To the Manor Reborn will be broadcast later in the year.

The series will follow the refurbishment of the 500-year-old property in Avebury as it is brought back to life.

Teams of craftsmen, furniture makers and interior design experts will restore the interior of the Grade I listed house to reflect its long history.

‘Push the boundaries’

BBC One controller Danny Cohen said: “Our partnership with the National Trust on this ambitious project encapsulates so many of the BBC’s ambitions.

“The channel aims to keep engaging audiences in new ways and this series offers them the chance to follow the story on screen, and to experience it first hand.”

Sarah Staniforth, the museums and collections director for the National Trust, said: “It is not only a unique opportunity to engage viewers in the history of interior design and architecture but is also a way for the trust to push the boundaries in bringing properties to life.”

Among the guests on To The Manor Reborn will be architectural expert Dan Cruickshank and gardener David Howard.

Avebury Manor will be closed for much of the year while the series is being filmed. It will be reopened as an “immersive experience” in the autumn.

Avebury Manor and Garden

An establishment of monastic origins, the present buildings dates from early 16th century with Queen Anne alterations and Edwardian renovations. The gardens are of an Edwardian style and features much topiary.

Link: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-avebury/w-visit-avebury_filming-at-avebury-manor.htm

Wessex Tour Guide – The Best Tours in Ancient Histort
HisTOURies UK – Mystical landscape, magical tours

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The Festival for British Archaeology is a fortnight long extravaganza of heritage events, celebrating archaeology for all, and encouraging people to get involved in archaeology. It is made up of hundreds of events across the UK. The Festival of British Archaeology grew out of National Archaeology Week in 2009 to reflect the huge growth of the event in recent years, when it moved from a week-long to a fortnight-long event.

Find out what took place at events around the UK as part of the Festival 2010.

Taking Part

The Festival for British Archaeology is your unique chance to discover and explore the archaeological heritage of the United Kingdom. During this 16 day event, which will run from 16th – 31st July in 2011, you can take part in excavation open days, hands-on activities, family fun days, guided tours, exhibitions, lectures, ancient art and craft workshops and much, much more. Find out what events are happening near you! Put the date in your diary!

Aim of the Festival

The aim of this annual event is to encourage everyone, and especially young people and their families to visit sites of archaeological/historical interest or museums, heritage and resource centres, to see archaeology in action and to take part in activities on-site.

The Festival for British Archaeology is coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, an educational charity working throughout the UK to involve people in archaeology and to promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations. The CBA brings together those for whom archaeology is an interest, an active pastime or a career.

Festival Background

The Festival for British Archaeology originated as National Archaeology Day, first held in 1990 with a total of ten events. Initially it was linked in with European Heritage Days in September of each year, but feedback from participants led to a move to July to make the most of the fieldwork opportunities and to gain maximum publicity. Popularity increased and in 2003 it became a weekend event with 195 events around the country.

A further increase to 232 events in 2004 led to the first nine-day National Archaeology Week being held in July 2005. The number of organisations taking part in National Archaeology Week and public awareness of the event continued to expand rapidly over the next 3 years, and in 2008, over 470 events were held around the UK, with an estimated 160,000 people taking part.

Due to the ongoing success of National Archaeology Week and as a response to positive feedback from both event organisers and members of the public, the event was expanded still further in 2009, to a fortnight long event, and with the new fortnight came the introduction of the new name Festival of British Archaeology. By expanding the number of days the event is held over, event organisers have a greater choice of when to hold events and members of the public have the opportunity to attend a greater number of events. The expanded, newly named Festival is a great success, with 650 events held during the fortnight in 2009, 760 events in 2010, and over 160,000 participants attending events annually.

Link: http://www.britarch.ac.uk

Get involved!

Wessex Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in British History

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 The weather may not be anything to write a postcard home about – but the West’s tourism industry enjoyed a twin boost yesterday.

Key visitor attractions featured prominently in the first global TV adverts for a decade and new research showed up to 17 million Brits will holiday at home this year.

VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, yesterday unveiled its international TV campaign to attract overseas visitors to the country.

The adverts will be screened around the world, and include Stonehenge, Glastonbury and the Cotswolds.

Stonehenge is already in the spotlight because of the summer solstice, and VisitBritain say the UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important prehistoric monuments on the planet.

As well as the 5,000-year-old site, there are money Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in the surrounding landscape, and Avebury, the largest stone circle in Europe, is nearby.

Glastonbury is synonymous with the annual music festival taking place at the weekend, with international superstars such as U2, Coldplay and Beyonce, as well as theatre and circus performers and much more.but VisitBritain also point to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, and the iconic Tor, along with myths and legends about the Isle of Avalon, King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail.

The agency adds: “For many visitors, the Cotswolds represent everything that is quintessentially ‘English’, with villages and churches of honey-coloured limestone set among gentle hillsides, cottage gardens, beech woods and drystone walls.”

Historic sites include Sudeley Castle and Chedworth Roman Villa, while VisitBritain urges tourists to sample local produce such as Gloucester Old Spot pork, Tewkesbury mustard and the famous Cotswold cheeses.

Other locations in the TV adverts include London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, the Lake District, Snowdon in Wales, Edinburgh Castle and the Highlands.

Celebrities such as actress Dame Judi Dench, fashion icon Twiggy and chef Jamie Oliver – who has restaurants in Bath and Bristol with another opening in Cheltenham this summer – star in them.

The campaign kicks off a major marketing push that seeks to build on the global impact of the Royal Wedding, with the Olympics next year also guaranteeing the international spotlight.

It will concentrate on the current most important tourism markets, such as the US and Western Europe, and the big growth areas for the future, including China and India.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “This is our first global TV campaign for 10 years and marks the start of an ambitious marketing programme. With the eyes of the world on us, we have an opportunity to showcase Britain and then to close the sale with great travel deals and offers from our partners.

“This campaign aims to inspire visitors to come and explore for themselves. Over four years, we aim to attract four million extra overseas visitors, who will spend £2 billion across Britain.”

Meanwhile a new survey has found nearly 40 per cent of Britons will stay at home this summer as families strive to balance household finances.

Many of them will instead enjoy ‘staycations’, with the West sure to cash in.

The poll was carried out for savings bank ING Direct, and chief executive Richard Doe said: “It’s not surprising that the summer holiday is often being sacrificed.”

Visiting Britain ? Visit the West Country!

Wessex Tour Guide
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Prince William
This profile of HRH Prince William appeared in the September 1999 issue of The Royal Report.

As the Royal party partook of a Mediterranean cruise around the Greek islands on the yacht Alexander this summer, the Prince of Wales had good reason to be proud of his elder son. Showing not only his emotional sensitivity, but a mature understanding of his father’s needs, Prince William suggested that Charles’s long-term companion Camilla Parker Bowles be invited join the party. Otherwise, the Prince noted, his father would be forced to spend a month apart from Mrs Parker Bowles: during the luxury 10-day cruise, and afterwards for the traditional two-week break at Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish residence. The cruise, one commentator noted, appeared to mark the end for the 17-year-old Prince of a two-year period of grief and upheaval.

In the early hours of August 31, 1997, while holidaying at Balmoral, William awoke to the news that his mother and her lover had been fatally wounded in a car accident in Paris. In the two years that have followed, William has shown courage and maturity beyond his years, and has transformed from a shy teenager, with his loyalties torn between love for his mother and duty towards his father, into an independent, strong-willed young man with the destiny of the Monarchy on his shoulders.

The elder son and heir of the Prince and the late Princess of Wales was born on June 21, 1982 in the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, weighing in at at 7lb 10oz after a lengthy labour. The boy was christened William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor, with water from the River Jordan, in the music room of Buckingham Palace on August 4, 1982, coinciding with the 82nd birthday of the Queen Mother.

Both parents wanted William, and later Harry, to have as normal a childhood as possible. Unlike previous heirs to the throne, who were educated at home by private tutors at the same age, William’s formal education began at the age of three at Mrs Mynor’s Nursery School in Notting Hill Gate, West London. It continued at Wetherby, a nearby preparatory day school, where emphasis was placed on music and manners.

At first, Princess Diana was against sending William to boarding school. Prince Charles, remembering the misery of his own schooldays, equally did not want his son to suffer as he had at Gordonstoun. But for reasons of security, a compromise was reached. Aged eight, William was sent to Ludgrove Preparatory School in Wokingham, Berkshire, where he boarded on weekdays only. His school reports revealed his talent on the sports field, where he impressed as a rugby and hockey team captain, a crack shot, an excellent football and basketball player, and a school representative at cross-country running and swimming.

Diana described him as “the man in my life”, and the most photographed woman in the world relied upon her elder son for comfort and advice. Their relationship was close: Wills even announced that he wanted to be a policeman when he grew up, so that he could protect his mother. (“You can’t,” Harry observed, “you’ve got to be King.”) On one occasion, when Diana locked herself in the bathroom after an argument with Charles, it was William who pushed tissues under the door with a note saying: “I hate to see you sad.” By the age of nine, he had already learned to book a table at San Lorenzo, her favourite restaurant, to cheer up his mother. It was William who later advised her to accelerate her divorce proceedings by agreeing to be stripped of the title HRH, reassuring her: “You’ll still be Mummy.”

In turn, “Mummy” took William on a number of visits to meet the homeless and the dying, to make him aware of others’ suffering. “I want William and Harry to experience what most people already know,” Diana told an interviewer. “That they are growing up in a multi-racial society in which everyone is not rich, or has four holidays a year, or speaks standard English and drives a Range Rover.”

At 13, William was sent to Eton College, close to Windsor, a choice well-suited to a boy with a public future, not least because his new classmates would be as well-connected and as well-heeled as he: the Prince would not even be the only boy with a private detective. It became a regular arrangement that, on Sunday afternoons at 4pm, he would take tea with the Queen at the castle on the hill, where they continue to discuss William’s Royal duties – which at this stage include scheduling official photo calls and the occasional walkabout. William is not likely to begin taking on his own major Royal duties until he has completed his education. Unlike his father, there will be no formal title awaiting Prince William when he comes of age.

William developed an early sensitivity to the needs of others. Aged 14, he took the bold step of asking his parents not to attend the most important day in the school calendar, Eton’s Fourth of June celebrations, as he believed the presence of the press and bodyguards would spoil this Parents’ Day for his peers. Charles and Diana were both taken aback when he instead invited Tiggy Legge-Bourke to attend. Engaged by Prince Charles as unofficial nanny to the boys, Ms Legge-Bourke, whose mother was appointed Lady-in-Waiting to the Princess Royal, is a close companion with whom William feels naturally at ease. With a sense of fun that delights both William and Harry, Ms Legge-Bourke has noted: “I give the Princes what they need – fresh air, a rifle and a horse.”

William continues to flourish at Eton. His housemaster Dr Andrew Gailey, a respected constitutional historian and music lover from Northern Ireland, has taken William under his wing educationally and emotionally, and has been an important influence as William has sought to rebuild his life. Having proven to be the fastest junior swimmer at Eton in 10 years, from this term William will captain the swimming team, holding the title of Joint Keeper of Swimming. His duties include team selection, greeting visiting teams, keeping records, training new boys, and recommending swimmers for their colours. William has also been appointed secretary of the renowned Agricultural Club, and recently received Eton’s Sword of Honour, the school’s highest award for a first-year army cadet. In addition, senior pupils have elected him to the élite Eton Society, one of the highest honours bestowed on boys at the top of the school. The exclusive club, known as “Pop”, is a selection of the 11 most popular and respected boys going into the upper sixth. William will ensure that younger boys attend a daily chapel service, serve as an usher at school plays, and gain the authority to fine pupils who break the school rules.

“My boy’s got a good brain,” Diana would note proudly, “considering how hopeless both his parents were.” And close to the first anniversary of his mother’s death, William, who had gained three GCSE passes the previous year, received a further nine GCSEs with top A* and A grades in English, history and languages, and Bs for other subjects including maths and science. He returned for his final year at Eton on September 8 to take geography, English and history of art at A level.

It was long presumed that the Prince would follow in his father’s footsteps by attending Trinity College, Cambridge. This decision had been made for Charles by a committee of advisers, but William will be given more freedom. “God help anyone who tells William what to do,” observed one courtier. “He listens, but he won’t be pushed around by the system.” Indeed, William has told friends that he wishes to attend Cambridge only if his grades merit a place, and that rather than gain favouritism he would rather attend one of his four other choices. These are Edinburgh, St Andrews, Bristol and Durham universities, all of which the Prince has recently visited. History of art is likely to be his chosen subject. An army career will probably follow. “In the medium term, William wants to go into the armed services in some form,” says his uncle, Earl Spencer. “It is a traditional part of the Royal upbringing, but he would actually like to do it of his own volition.”

William values his privacy as well as his independence. At St James’s Palace, where he and Prince Harry share an apartment with their father, William has his own suite of rooms to which only he holds the key. He recently asked his father if he could convert the cellars of Highgrove House, the Gloucestershire home of the Prince of Wales, into his own flat. So far Papa is undecided. Like any other teenager, the second-in-line to the throne listens to techno music, selects all his own clothes, and enjoys playing computer games. For his seventeenth birthday, William was given a VW Golf car by Charles, and soon afterwards passed his driving test at the first attempt. He had been driving on the private roads of the Royal estates from the age of 13, but received just 20 hours of tuition from Police Sergeant Chris Gilbert, an expert in anti-hijack and counter-surveillance techniques, before passing his test in a silver Ford Focus on loan to the Royal Estate. The Prince was praised by his instructor for his “natural flair for driving”, and will continue lessons to make him more confident at night and motorway driving.

Recently, William has taken up his father’s beloved sport of polo, despite being a left-handed player in a game which favours the right-handed. Although he is not always comfortable in the public gaze, all eyes were on William when he made a low-key appearance in the company of the new young polo set at the Cartier International Polo Day at Smith’s Lawns, Windsor, this season. At six-foot one-and-a-half-inches tall, with self-assured elegance and those coy, head-lowered glances inherited from his mother, William has become the focus of much female attention – which embarrasses him terribly. He has chosen to socialise only with girls from families known to him. Informal dates are out of the question, and any future girlfriends will be thoroughly vetted to exclude the unsuitable and welcome the socially preferred. He only has to mention his interest in a young lady for an approach to be made to her parents by St James’s Palace. Mother and daughter will then be invited to tea or a party. Similarly, if William appears to be getting on well with a classmate’s sister or friend, networking will go on behind the scenes and introductions made. His circle includes Lady Iona Douglas Home, Holly Branson, Emilia D’Erlanger and Zara Simmonds, among many other attractive young women.

“William has so much sheer personal confidence for his age, but it has absolutely nothing to do with his position,” observes one Royal insider. “At the same age, his father was a mess of uncertainties. William always seems to know where he’s going and he always gets what he wants.” As he reaches adulthood, Prince William has already demonstrated that he possesses the maturity, sensitivity and strength he will need to rise to his destiny as the future of the Monarchy.

Good luck today Prince William and Kate Middleton!
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