THOUSANDS of well-wishers turned out last Friday to welcome Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton ‘home’ to St Andrews.
North Street was thronged with locals and visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the couple or even exchange a few words with the future King and Queen on their return to the town where they first met as students.
The pair were in St Andrews as part of William’s role as patron of the university’s 600th anniversary celebrations, which he formally opened by unveiling a plaque in St Salvator’s Quadrangle.
After being welcomed ‘home’ by university chancellor and North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell, the prince told an audience of students, staff and dignitaries: “This is a very special moment for Catherine and me.
“It feels like coming home.
“Despite being one of Europe’s leading research institutions, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world and, of course, far and away the best university in the world, St Andrews still has that uncanny knack of feeling like home.”
After joking about his memories of Raisin Monday celebrations in the quad, William added: “In true St Andrews style, and despite the great mathematicians these halls have produced, we still can’t work out exactly how old we are.
“Are we 600 this year, or next year, or is it the year after that?
“What does it matter? Let’s celebrate for three years.”
The couple were piped out of the quad by third year social anthropology student Ailidh Campbell (20), a member of the Tayforth Universities Officer Training Corps Pipes and Drums.
As a female piper, Ailidh was specifically requested for the occasion by university principal Professor Louise Richardson, and said it was an “honour” to be asked.
Ailidh said: “I was very nervous beforehand but also really excited.
“I was delighted to be asked — it was an absolute honour and it was great to be part of such a big event.”
To mark the 600th anniversary, William helped launch a £100 million appeal to ensure the brightest students will continue to be able to attend St Andrews, regardless of background or circumstances.