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Prince William graduates from university

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, has graduated from university in Scotland, watched by his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II and his father Prince Charles.

The 23-year-old was awarded a masters degree in geography from St. Andrews University, where he has spent the past four years tucked away from the eyes of the media.

William, whose mother Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris almost eight years ago, was one of 260 students graduating from the university, including his girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

A deal with the press to leave William alone during his studies expires at the end of graduation week, when he will join the British Lions on their rugby tour in New Zealand and carry out his first solo engagements on behalf of the queen.

William has said he plans to sign up for military training at Sandhurst, the prestigious military academy south of London where his younger brother Harry began his studies last month.

"Today is a very special day for me and I am delighted that I can share it with my family," William said in a statement.

The prince also paid tribute to the queen, who it was feared would have to pull out after catching a bad cold earlier this week.

Wearing a black gown with cherry lining and red hood, and a white bow tie, William knelt in front of St. Andrews' Chancellor Kenneth Dover to be tapped on the head with a cap.

According to St. Andrews tradition, the cap is sewn from a fragment of breeches worn by Scottish religious reformer John Knox, who preached in the medieval university town in the 16th century.

Charles and his new wife the Duchess of Cornwall joined The Duke of Edinburgh and the queen in the front of the lower balcony.

Onlookers told the UK Press Association they leaned over the balcony to find William in his seat below and smiled broadly when they spotted him.

In his statement, William said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at St. Andrews and I shall be very sad to leave.

"I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has made my time here so enjoyable. I have been able to lead as 'normal' a student life as I could have hoped for and I'm very grateful to everyone, particularly the locals, who have helped make this happen."

Clarence House announced that after the summer break, the prince is to undertake work experience at a financial institution in the City of London, join a mountain rescue team, and learn more about land management.

"I very much hope that these work placements will give me hands-on experience in three very different but important areas," he said.

"The work experience in the City was something I was particularly keen to do as I feel that this is an area in which I could learn a lot and it may well help me with charitable fund-raising in the future.

"The land management experience will hopefully allow me to develop skills and an understanding of how to best look after the countryside.

"Joining a mountain rescue team really appealed to me as I can learn at first hand how these amazing people help save lives on a regular basis."

William said he was going to miss being in Scotland. He added: "I am very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities which the future brings -- and not least, hopefully, an ultimately triumphant Lions tour of New Zealand."

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