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Sunday, 23 September, 2001, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Student prince arrives at university
Prince William has arrived in St Andrews to begin his four years at the ancient Scottish university.

The 19-year-old prince was greeted by a crowd of 2,000 onlookers as he was driven into the university's quadrangle.

The teenage royal and his father, Prince Charles, were met by university principal Dr Brian Lang before a brief walk along the road to greet the crowds.

He was noticeably less enthuthiastic about this task than he had been on a series of official engagements in Scotland on Friday.

After less than five minutes William disappeared into his hall of residence.

Prince William close-up
The prince hopes to be an ordinary student
The prince will begins his four-year degree course at St Andrews on Monday.

He hopes to be left alone by the media to be an ordinary student, but before he arrived in the Fife town he spoke of why he chose a university in Scotland.

And he also discussed his future career plans and what he will be looking for in a friend.

The prince has enjoyed a gap year taking part in various projects in places such as Chile and Africa, but he is now ready to knuckle down and concentrate on his History of Art degree.

As a "thank you" to the media for leaving him alone during his year out, William made a pre-university debut in Scotland with a series of official functions with his father.

"I really enjoyed it. They are welcoming people, the Scots, and I met some great people," said William.

The arrival of the prince at St Andrews has been eagerly anticipated.

Wedding dresses

Applications for courses at the university have risen by 44% and there have been reports of over-eager female students already having ordered their wedding dresses in readiness for his arrival.

"I suppose they're saying that tongue-in-cheek," he said.

"But people who try to take advantage of me and get a piece of me - I spot it quickly and soon go off them."

The prince believes he will always have to be on his guard but insists it will not stop him enjoying his university life to the full.

Hall of residence

"I just want to go to university and have fun," he said.

"I want to go there and be an ordinary student. I mean, I'm only going to university. It's not like I'm getting married - though that's what it feels like sometimes."

But William, who is living at a university hall of residence where his meals are provided, is optimistic the attention from fellow students will gradually drop away.

"It will get easier as time goes on. Everyone will get bored of me - which they do," he said.

The prince revealed he chose the university first, and his course second.

He particularly wanted to study in Scotland, and applied to St Andrews, its oldest university, after falling in love with the windswept town on the east coast of Fife.

It will get easier as time goes on. Everyone will get bored of me - which they do.

William said: "The reason I didn't want to go to an English university is because I have lived there and wanted to get away and try somewhere else. I also knew I would be seeing a lot of Wales in the future.

"And I do love Scotland. There is plenty of space, I love the hills and mountains and I thought St Andrews had a real community feel to it."

William said the town's proximity to the sea was another factor.

"I've never lived near the sea so it will be very different."

He said Edinburgh, at one stage another possibility for his university choice, was "too busy" for his liking.

Freshers' Week

It also helped that St Andrews had a highly respected course in history of art, in which William attained a B grade at A level.

Although he has no firm plans about a future career, it seems it would be wrong to view art history as his chosen vocation.

"I'm much more interested in doing something with the environment, but I'm not sure what yet," he said.

William said he was determined to be treated like an ordinary student, yet he has already missed Freshers' Week.

The traditional introduction to university life, in which first year students forge their first bonds with each other, was missing its most high-profile fresher.

St Andrews hall of residence
The prince will stay in halls of residence
Prince William believes he was right to skip the week.

Among his reasons were that the few friends he does know at the university were not going to be there ahead of term's official start on Monday.

But his main fear was that intense media interest would overshadow Freshers' Week and ruin it for himself and others.

"It would have been a media frenzy and that's not fair on the other new students," he said.

"Plus, I thought I would probably end up in a gutter completely wrecked, and the people I had met that week wouldn't end up being my friends anyway.

"It also meant I could have another week's holiday."

Small circle of friends

Nonetheless, like all new students, William still faces the challenge of finding friends.

He is in an environment unlike any he has been in before and where six in ten of the university's 6,500 students are from state schools.

But William insists he will not be closeting himself within a small circle of friends at St Andrews.

Nor will he make any distinction on the 'type' of student he thinks he will hang around with.

"It's not as if I choose my friends on the basis of where they are from or what they are," he said.

"It's about their character and who they are and whether we get on. I just hope I can meet people I get on with. I don't care about their backgrounds."

However, the truth is that the prince is not like everyone else, and whether he will be able to be the ordinary student he hopes to be remains to be seen

The BBC's Jennie Bond in St Andrews
"He says he's quick to spot people who want to take advantage"
Martha Fairlie reports
"It was a high-profile start to what he hopes will be a low-key university career."
See also:

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