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hirty years ago, I was standing outside Wetherby pre-prep school in London’s Notting Hill waiting for the young Prince William to arrive for his first day at school. It was a cold, snowy January morning, but still the square was full of photographers waiting to see the four-and-a-half-year-old Prince and his parents. We weren’t disappointed when he arrived only with his mum – Prince Charles having been snowed in at Sandringham – and the photographers got their pictures.

   It was also the day the palace announced that royal nanny Barbara Barnes had left the Waleses’ household. She had been with the boys since they were born and was generally considered the linchpin that held their lives together. The story of her departure made the front pages of most newspapers, such was the interest in Diana in those days.

   On 7 September little Prince George, who is quite shy and often wary of cameras, will begin the same educational path as his father, not at Wetherby in Notting Hill this time, but at Thomas’s in Battersea. It is a route for many London-based parents who can afford the £6,000-a-term fees, which obviously the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can.

   ‘Diana-mania’, so intense when William started school in 1987, was reignited by the 20th anniversary of her death. The interest – built up largely by the media – has been supported by countless television documentaries on both sides of the Atlantic. Princes William and Harry gave interviews to both the BBC and ITV, more notably the latter, when they spoke for the first time on screen about their feelings over the loss of their mother. The programme was moving as they articulated their grief.

   ‘It was probably a bit too raw up until this point,’ Harry said. ‘It’s still raw.’ He then spoke about his parents’ separation and being ‘bounced’ between his mother and father. ‘We never saw our mother enough, or we never saw our father enough,’ the Prince continued. ‘It was a strange way to grow up.’

   The fear of divorce or separation is one of the reasons the Queen always counsels her grandchildren against rushing into marriage. She knows the regimented side of royal life is hard for them, to say nothing of their partners. No doubt Prince Harry took this advice on board while romancing his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, in the African wilderness, the only place he feels he has any privacy.

   In late July, Prince William finished his job as an air ambulance pilot to start full-time royal duties and support his father and grandmother now that the Duke of Edinburgh has officially retired. During his two years with East Anglian Air Ambulance, based at Cambridge Airport, the Prince had responded to hundreds of emergency calls.

   Writing in the Eastern Daily Press, he said: ‘As I hang up my flight suit, I am proud to have served with such an incredible team of people, who save lives across the region every day.’

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