Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kate Middleton is a typical St Andrews girl

Kate Middleton is in many ways a typical product of the University of St Andrew's

The announcement that after his gap year Prince William was to study art history at St Andrews caused a surge in applications from girls to the ancient university, all presumably desperate to meet the Prince. But, long before William’s time, St Andrews was the university of choice for well-off, privately educated young women of conservative tinge.

Kate Middleton belongs to this group. In fact you could almost say she’s a classic St Andrews girl. They are fresh-faced and wholesome and they typically wear Barbours, pashminas, tailored tweed jackets, padded bodywarmers, pearls and Tiffany hearts. They’re prosperous, obviously – they drink spirits in the bars, not beer – and they’ve probably picked up the habit of flicking back their expensively highlighted hair when it falls into their eyes. Not that they’re a bunch of squares. Underneath the demure exterior there may lie a streak of raciness: witness that university fashion show when Kate sauntered down the aisle in a see-through dress.

Above all, these girls are English through and through, because although St Andrews is in Scotland, you could happily spend four years at the place and hardly hear a Scottish accent. (You will certainly hear some American accents, though.) Only about one in ten of the students, roughly, is Scottish. (It depends who you ask, but that figure may be as high as one in three or one in four. Either way it is a minority.) What’s more, the university has one of the lowest percentages of students from lower income backgrounds of anywhere in the whole of Great Britain.

It’s not hard to see why Sloaney types love St Andrews. It is a very pretty, ancient town. And its setting, in Fife, near a coastline dotted with picturesque fishing villages, offers the beauty of the rugged outdoors, which has always so appealed to the English upper middle and upper classes – and to the Royal Family. William and Kate may, as Royal expert Ingrid Seward suggests, decide to spend part of their honeymoon at Balmoral as six royal couples have before them. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they also find time for lounging around on a yacht in the Caribbean. St Andrews girls like a spot of luxury.