Chelsea Clinton revisits her dad's dreaming spires

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Some 23 years after her father began his studies amid the dreaming spires in a fog of uninhaled marijuana smoke, Chelsea Clinton arrived at Oxford University yesterday in search of further learning.

Shortly after midday, and accompanied by Bill, a former Rhodes Scholar and some-time leader of the free world, Ms Clinton became the second generation of her family to enter University College.

But whereas Clinton Senior had arrived anonymously in 1968 as just another American on a sabbatical, his daughter's presence was announced with a phalanx of Secret Service agents and a clampdown on security.

In a move reminiscent of another high-profile student's recent induction at St Andrews University, the college prevented access to all outsiders, in particular those bearing telephoto lenses or television cameras.

Unlike Prince William, Chelsea, 21, already has a degree to her name, having graduated in history from Stanford University this year. She is taking a Masters degree in international relations at Oxford.

In due deference to the current delicate state of global politics, only those with college passes were allowed through the ornate wooden gates to greet the low-profile VIPs. A university spokeswoman said: "Very few people knew she was coming, so there wasn't any need for much crowd control. Mr Clinton had brought his own security with him. We want her to have as normal a student life as possible. There is a reasonable level of security but no high-profile police presence.''

Safe in the knowledge that prying eyes – and any film crews from Ardent Productions – were out of reach, the new arrival and her father mingled briefly with fellow students and their parents.

Mr Clinton, who spent two years at University College, seemed happy to play the fatherly role, dressing in a brown blazer, tie and slacks and helping his daughter to unpack her belongings.

It was unclear, however, whether the former President had used the visit to his alma mater to show his daughter his former rooms – or to reminisce on his notorious close encounter, of the "I-did-not-inhale'' kind, with a passing spliff.

* The future of Ardent Productions, the television company run by Prince Edward, was brought into new doubt yesterday when its chairman said it would now concentrate on film and drama.

Senior advisers to the Queen were in talks with the Prince over his role after an Ardent film crew broke a media agreement to allow Prince William privacy at St Andrews University.

Malcolm Cockren, Ardent chairman, signalled a move away from royalty-based programmes – a mainstay of the company – saying it would put its energies elsewhere.

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