Kate Middleton takes part in lesson at school in Harrow
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This morning, the Duchess of Cambridge visited a north London secondary school to join year 8 students in a science lesson about neuroscience and the effects of early childhood development on the brain. Kate joined 27 students at the 2000-pupil, mixed ability comprehensive school, Nower Hill High School. The pupils were recapping what they had learned as part of an Oxford University programme that looks to embed key principles of early childhood development and neuroscience in pupils.
The topic is closely linked to the Duchess’ own royal work.
Earlier this year, Kate established The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, and has passionately explored how early childhood experiences affect the developing brain for much of her royal life.
However, when Kate was a similar age to today’s pupils, her time at school was reportedly marred by bullying.
When she attended the prestigious Downe House girls boarding school in Berkshire, Kate was allegedly picked on because “she was perfect”.
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The Duchess’ school friend Jessica Hay claimed to the News of the World in 2010: “She hated it, absolutely hated it.
“Some of the girls there were horrible.
“She was picked on because she was perfect ‒ well turned out and a lovely person.
“She was not the type to stick up for herself.”
When Kate was 13, the Middleton family withdrew the future Duchess of Cambridge from the school mid-term and enrolled Kate at Marlborough College where she completed her schooling.
After Malborough, she studied at the University of St Andrews where she met and lived with Prince William, whom she would ultimately marry in 2011.
Another of Kate’s Downe House peers opened up about the Duchess of Cambridge’s difficult time at the competitive all-girls school, in royal expert Katie Nicholl’s book ‘Kate: The Future Queen’.
Emma Sayle, who was four years ahead of Kate at the school, said: “Everyone wanted to be the best, the fittest, the prettiest.
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“I think Kate was miserable from the start.
“I think it’s a very cliquey school and there was a lot of pressure.”
Kate’s old headmistress, however, stressed in a statement that she had no knowledge of “serious bullying” during the Duchess’ time at the school.
Susan Cameron, who met the Middletons on several occasions, said: “She may well have felt like a fish out of water, or unhappily not in the right place.
“Certainly I have no knowledge of any serious bullying at all. But there’s what everyone calls bullying, and there’s actual, real, miserable bullying where someone had a dreadful time.
“That certainly didn’t happen. Yes, there would be teasing.
“It’s all a part of the normal competition of growing up, of establishing a pecking order.
She added: “I think it’s fair to say she was unsettled and not particularly happy.
“Maybe in Catherine’s case she just kind of went quiet and didn’t say anything.”
’Kate: The Future Queen’ is written by Katie Nicholl and published by Hachette Books in 2013. You can find it here.
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