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Prince William must mix with 'ordinary students' at Cambridge, insists Mary Beard

William set to spend 10 weeks at Cambridge studying agricultural management

The Duke of Cambridge should take the opportunity to spend time with “ordinary students” when he starts at Cambridge University later this month, the BBC TV historian Mary Beard has said.

Professor Beard, who is also a professor of classics at the university, said she hoped that Prince William would be able to take the time to empathise with the concerns of his peers while he spends 10 weeks in Cambridge learning agricultural management.

Read more: Attack helicopters to ploughshares: Prince William returns to student life

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.”

There has been a spot of controversy around William’e s place on the “bespoke” course. Most students admitted to Cambridge require at least one A* and two As at A-Level, but William achieved A, B and C – admittedly at a time before A*s were awarded as grades in the exams. He went on to achieve a 2:1 in geography from St Andrews University in Scotland in 2005.

Some critics have suggested William is getting preferential treatment as his father, Prince Charles, is a patron of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

A statement from Cambridge confirmed that the course had been “ designed to help provide the Duke with an understanding of contemporary issues affecting agricultural business and rural communities in the United Kingdom”. It is believed that he is learning the skills required to run the Duchy of Cornwall, which will be passed on from Charles as and when he ascends to the throne.