A turning point on the journey towards adulthood, that all-important first day of school denotes a major milestone in any young child’s life.
One marked with celebrations and a sense of sadness, filled with bookbags, shiny new shoes, and the anticipation of all that is to come.
And for those around Prince George, a little boy who will one day be king, it is to be particularly poignant as the youngster prepares to take his first steps towards independence.
The four-year-old is to join thousands across the country this week as he embarks on his first day of a new academic term.
Having chosen an independent fee-paying school in South London, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to be welcomed with the young prince to Thomas’s Battersea on Thursday.
George will be smartly dressed in his new uniform, a navy v-neck pullover, matching Bermuda-style shorts, long red socks and black shoes.
Kate has already said she is not sure George “has any idea what’s going to hit him” when he starts school.
But for Thomas’s, which runs a number of schools in London, it’s motto is to “Be Kind”.
The school, where fees cost from £17,604 a year, has been described by the Good Schools Guide as: “A big, busy, slightly chaotic school for cosmopolitan parents who want their children to have the best English education money can buy.
“That is what they want and, to a large degree, that is what they get.”
The school has a big focus on celebrating a range of different cultures within its walls, with 19 languages spoken in the homes of its pupils.
Prince George will join 560 boys and girls, ranging in age from four to 13, in one of three small reception classes expected to include around 20 children.
There is a selection process in place to the over-subscribed school, rated as outstanding by Ofsted, and with parents advised to put their children’s names down shortly after birth.
The four-year-old and his classmates are to be taught a range of subjects and activities from art to drama, French, music and physical education.
And among the items needed for the new term ahead are a swim hat, a pair of black ballet shoes, and a red art smock.
“In each school, we aim to offer the highest academic standards, set within a broad and rich curriculum, which inspires enjoyment, learning and achievement,” Thomas’s says on its website.
“We hope that our pupils will leave this school with a strong sense of social responsibility, set on a path to become net contributors to society and to flourish as conscientious and caring citizens of the world.”
The move to London ahead of Prince George’s first day at school also marks the start of a new chapter for the Cambridge’s as they have left Anmer Hall in Norfolk for a new base at their Kensington Palace apartment.
William, who left his job as a helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance in July, is now looking to spend more of his time carrying out royal duties in support of the Queen, as well as focusing on the various charity work and causes him and Kate have pledged to support.
School dinners fit for a prince
Prince George’s new school serves freshly prepared organic meals for lunch and aims to ensure the future king becomes a “conscientious and caring citizen of the world”.
Among the impressive range of wholesome school dinners which have been offered are lamb ragout with garlic and fresh herbs, served with organic grated cheese, baton carrots and cucumber, and steamed fibre-rich whole-wheat twisty pasta, or Mediterranean 50/50 couscous and quinoa, and baked smoked mackerel on a bed of puy lentils. Past desserts have included such treats as oven-baked oatmeal and raisin cookie served with a banana milkshake, and steamed jam and coconut sponge with organic custard.