LONDON - Britain's Prince William started a 10-week course in agricultural management at Cambridge University on Tuesday, in a bid to prepare him for future duties.
The 31-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived at the prestigious institution to begin the course, which is intended to give him an understanding of agricultural business and rural communities.
Like many students he travelled by train to Cambridge in eastern England from London for his first day - but unlike others the university's vice chancellor was on hand to greet him.
The bespoke programme is designed to help prepare the second in line to the throne for when he inherits the Duchy of Cornwall when his father Prince Charles becomes king.
Currently run by Charles, the estate, established in 1337, funds the public, charitable and private activities of the monarch's eldest living son and his family.
The duchy consists of around 53,000 hectares of land, mostly in southwest England. It is worth £763million, producing a revenue surplus of £19 million in 2012-2013.
That surplus funds Charles; his wife Camilla; William, his wife Catherine and their baby son Prince George; and Charles's second son Prince Harry.
The portfolio of land, property and investments includes The Oval cricket ground in London, and Charles's Poundbury model village.
The prince is back at university having spent four years at St Andrews in Scotland, where he and Kate met. He graduated in 2005 with a geography degree. William completed his active service as a search and rescue helicopter pilot in September, after seven and a half years in the military.
William is expected to make the 45-minute train journey north from London to Cambridge several days a week for his seminars, lectures and meetings, though he can also stay in the city from which he derives his title.
The course has been designed specifically for William but he will study alongside regular students in some classes.
He faces 20 hours of teaching per week, including small group work and one-to-one tuition, and his own additional reading. He will also go on field trips.
The duke will be taught by academics specialising in geography, land economy and plant sciences.
Modules include rural and planning policy, farming and supply chains, site management, agricultural policy and conservation governance.
Following the agriculture course, he is considering several options for public service, Kensington Palace has said.
William and Kate are to visit Australia and New Zealand in April, with George expected to travel with them.