ST ANDREANS are preparing to roll out the red carpet to welcome their future king and his bride-to-be back to the town next Friday.
Prince William, accompanied by Kate Middleton, will launch the 600th anniversary celebrations of the University of St Andrews.
The official visit will be the Prince’s first in his role as patron of the 600th anniversary appeal and the couple’s first official engagement in Scotland.
The anniversary will span three calendar years, from 2011 to 2013, and will mark the formal charter granted by Bishop Henry Wardlaw in February 1411 and the achievement of full university status conferred by Pope Benedict XIII by Papal Bull in 1413.
William and Kate, who are both alumni of the university, will attend a reception and view the surviving Papal Bull before going on to the historic St Salvator’s Quadrangle where they will meet students and staff and unveil a plaque to mark the launch of the 600th anniversary.
Further details of the visit are expected to be confirmed in due course.
In celebrating its past, St Andrews is aiming to bolster its future, using the 600th anniversary as a springboard to launch a £100m philanthropic fundraising appeal.
A university spokesperson said: ‘‘The appeal will lay the foundations for a seventh century of exploration and allow the university to continue to invest in people, ideas and excellence.
‘‘A substantial focus of the appeal will be to generate new funds for scholarships, to ensure that a St Andrews education is accessible to all bright students, regardless of background or circumstance.’’
Welcoming the announcement of the visit, St Andrews principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, said: “I am delighted that Prince William has agreed to be patron of our 600th anniversary appeal.
‘‘Anniversaries are a time for reflection, celebration, and for action. St Andrews has much to celebrate and so much still to achieve.
‘‘We are Scotland’s first university, among Europe’s most research-intensive institutions and one of the world’s top 20 arts and humanities universities.
‘‘Our anniversary offers a wonderful opportunity to join with our alumni and friends to ensure we have the resources to continue a tradition of academic excellence.
“We hope that Prince William and Miss Middleton are the first among many who will reconnect with St Andrews and join in the celebrations.”
William and Kate first met at the university and both graduated in 2005, he with an honours degree in geography and she with an honours degree in history of art.
The couple will be married in Westminster Abbey on April 29.