Helicopters to ploughshares: Prince William returns to student life

Prince will study agricultural management at Cambridge for 10 weeks

The Duke of Cambridge will return to life as a student today by beginning a course in agricultural management at Cambridge University.

William will learn about the issues facing the UK's rural communities and the farming industry during the 10-week course.

The Duke's studies will give him a good grounding for his future role running the Duchy of Cornwall, a portfolio of land, property and investments he will inherit from his father the Prince of Wales when Charles becomes king.

Speaking about the course, a Kensington Palace spokesman said the Duke was "very much looking forward to it".

William's studies are a bespoke course run by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, an institution within Cambridge University's School of Technology, which has the Prince of Wales as its patron.

The Kensington Palace spokesman said: "The executive education programme of seminars, lectures and meetings will draw on the strengths of academics across the university. It will start in early January and run until mid-March.

"The course has been designed to help provide the Duke with an understanding of contemporary issues affecting agricultural business and rural communities in the United Kingdom."

The Duke will have 18 to 20 hours of lectures, seminars and meetings a week and is likely to have essays to complete and to make field trips.

Television historian Professor Mary Beard, Cambridge University's Professor of Classics, urged William to take the chance to mix with "ordinary" students during his course.

She told the Daily Mail: "I very much hope that he will take the opportunity to meet some of our more 'ordinary' students, struggling with making ends meet, worried about careers, future and debt."

He is expected to live in Cambridge part of the time during his studies as he will have accommodation within the city, but will still carry out a number of royal engagements over the coming months.

The costs for the course will be met privately.

The programme does not lead to a formal qualification but is thought to feature continual assessment.

William gave up operational duties with the air force in September after completing a three-year tour as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.

The second in line to the throne is in a transitional period and is considering options for his public service.

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