The Duke of Cambridge has 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 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 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.
George had appeared nervous as he walked inside to join his reception class, but beamed as he showed off his new uniform in a photograph released by Kensington Palace.
The image, taken before the school run on the steps of their London home, shows the prince holding his dad’s hand and burying the other in the pocket of his shorts.
Prince George is led into school by the Duke of Cambridge and head of the lower school Helen Haslem (Kensington Palace/PA)
A Kensington Palace spokeswoman said: “Their Royal Highnesses are delighted to share this lovely picture as Prince George starts school, and would like to thank everyone for all of the kind messages they have received.”
The Duke told Paul Simpson, the England Under-20s head coach, it had been a “good day”.
He said: “It went well. There was one other parent who had more of an issue with their children – so I was quite pleased I wasn’t the one. It was really nice actually. It’s a nice school.”
Prince George shakes hands with Ms Haslem (Kensington Palace/PA)
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 of the school.
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.
The Duke of Cambridge hopes to do as many school runs as possible (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)
“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 and characteristics.”
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.
Thomas’s Battersea in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)
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 said the prince will begin by attending school for half-days and build up to longer hours.
He said: “It will be a very, very gentle start. They start with half-days and the moment comes when they get to stay for lunch – which is a really big deal, trying to balance their lunch on their trays.
“Then they will be here eventually for full days and then we will start to introduce them to the breadth of the curriculum.”
Mr Thomas, whose parents founded the school, 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 physical education.
Asked why the Duke and Duchess had picked it for George, Mr Thomas said: “What lots of parents tell us, what they love about the school, is the breadth of its curriculum.
“The fact we focus not just on the children’s intellectual development but also on their artistic, their sporting development as well. They approve of our central school rule, which is to be kind.”
Kate, who missed George’s milestone, is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, as she did in her previous pregnancies.
The Duchess of Cambridge is suffering from extreme morning sickness (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
She was also forced to pull out of public engagements on Monday and Tuesday.
On Tuesday, a day after it was announced the couple are expecting their third child, William said Kate was well but admitted: “There’s not much sleep going on at the moment.”