Prince William “really charming” according to St Albans pupils after surprise lunch

14:58 14 January 2016

Nicholas Breakspear pupils from St Albans met with Prince William having lunch at John Henry Newman School. Photo courtesy of Twitter/Reece Attfield

Nicholas Breakspear pupils from St Albans met with Prince William having lunch at John Henry Newman School. Photo courtesy of Twitter/Reece Attfield


The Duke of Cambridge surprised a group of St Albans students yesterday (Wednesday) when he joined them for an unscheduled lunch while his air ambulance awaited the arrival of doctors on a school field.

Prince William ate lunch with pupils after landing the air ambulance on playing fields.Prince William ate lunch with pupils after landing the air ambulance on playing fields.

Prince William, who is a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), flew on to the playing field at John Henry Newman (JHN) Catholic School in Stevenage, while pupils from St Albans’ Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School were studying there.

The institutions have close ties as the head of the former school, Clive Mathew, is also executive headteacher of Nicholas Breakspear, in Colney Heath Lane.

Declan Linnane, headteacher of the latter school, said that sixth form students were at JHN when the air ambulance landed.

He spoke at length with the royal during lunch about everything from rugby to how George is doing at nursery, and described Prince William as “just a decent man who is in touch with humanity, very humble and very interested in other people”.

Nicholas Breakspear headteacher Declan Linnane, centre, enjoyed meeting Prince William, who also chatted with pupils Ellie Corroyer (left) and Mary BatesNicholas Breakspear headteacher Declan Linnane, centre, enjoyed meeting Prince William, who also chatted with pupils Ellie Corroyer (left) and Mary Bates

Declan explained: “I was in Stevenage as I work closely with Clive, because we support each other within our sixth form, so I went there for a meeting, and then I went into the dining room for lunch.”

Because of JHN’s proximity to Lister Hospital the EAAA, a charitable service working across Beds, Cambs, Norfolk and Suffolk, sometimes uses its fields for landing an air ambulance. Staff at JHN are accustomed to the helicopter’s arrival and make sure the area is cleared for the lifesaving service.

Declan, who was unaware that a royal was among the visiting crew, said: “JHN is a very hospitable school, and invited them in. Three gentlemen, who were wearing high-visibility jackets and fleeces with the words ‘pilot’ or ‘crew’ on them, came in.

“They were going to stay for about half an hour, because they were waiting to pick up a doctor and paramedic from previous incidents – there were car accidents around Beds and Herts.

“I recognised Prince William straight away. He came in, shook hands and then queued up for lunch; he wasn’t given any preferential treatment.

“He ate the same food I had – chicken and cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes and broccoli. It was a lovely lunch as JHN food is phenomenal.

“We all sat down, the five of us, and had lunch.

“I didn’t get starstruck to be honest, as we all breathe the same air.”

Declan said it was obvious during his 20-minute-long chat with the royal that he and his colleagues were “passionate about the work they do”.

He went on: “We were talking about their work, how long they are in the air, and their incredibly busy day, because of all the accidents around Beds and Herts. We also spoke about the rugby, and how well George is doing at nursery.”

Declan said: “He was very interested in Nicholas Breakspear - for example how I came to be headteacher there - and JHN; he asked lots of questions about both schools.

“He also made a donation to JHN’s chosen charity.”

When the group was joined by some pupils, Prince William apparently asked them about their mock exams, quizzed them on what they needed to do to improve, gave them some advice, and asked what they wanted to do upon leaving school.

Nicholas Breakspear Year 12 pupils Mary Bates and Ellie Corroyer, who also chatted with the royal, told the Herts Advertiser: “He was really charming, and very nice.”

Mary added: “You wouldn’t know he was a prince if you walked past him, as he was wearing a fleece and I wouldn’t have recognised him.”

Ellie said: “I was shocked because I said ‘hi’ and he said ‘hello, it is nice to meet you’.”

Declan, who later had to explain to the stunned school community that he was not forewarned about the royal visit, said that Ellie, Mary and other pupils “couldn’t believe how ‘normal’ and what a nice person he is.”

He added: “Prince William is a very unassuming and humble person. It is the first time I have met a royal, and I found him to be dedicated to his work and family and he is very passionate about young people.

“For the young people who were sitting with him yesterday, they had an opportunity to meet Prince William – it will be a moment in time they will always remember, as it’s not every day you meet a future king.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Herts Advertiser visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Herts Advertiser staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Herts Advertiser account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

Yesterday, 18:00
Independant Usborne Organiser Amy Collins reads to Busy Bees pre-school children for storytelling week.

A nursery school is holding a week of storytelling as part of a campaign to ‘bring stories to life’.

Yesterday, 12:00
Twelfth Night

A Lord or Lady of Misrule headed each table when the Mayor of St Albans held a Twelfth Night charity fundraising evening in aid of Herts Young Homeless (HYH).

Yesterday, 06:00
Ayoola Bandele

A courageous climber is tackling the world’s highest free-standing mountain to support HIV testing in Tanzania.

Saturday, January 21, 2017
Affinity Water

A water pipe repair which caused a pensioner sleepless nights has been rectified after the Herts Advertiser intervened.


BBC Farming Today's Charlotte Smith is chairing the Rothamsted forum. Photo courtesy @charlottebsmith/Twitter

A BBC presenter, who describes herself as being a ‘radio nerd’ since a teenager, is chairing a major agricultural event in Harpenden

Digital Edition

Read the The Herts Advertiser e-edition E-edition
Zoo Watch CountryPhile

St Albans Sinkhole News

Saturday, December 31, 2016
Re-opening of Fontmell Close, St Alban's, AL3 5HU after repairs following a sinkhole.
Left to right: Mayor Frances Leonard cutting the ribbon with residents Ben Bagshaw and his son Finley Bagshaw 14 months old

With stories covering the likes of Bowie, Brexit, the BID, Butterfly World, The Brickyard and the Berlin Wall, it certainly hasn’t been a quiet year for the Herts Advertiser.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read stories

Local business directory

Hertfordshire's trusted business finder

Show Job Lists

Herts Most Wanted Herts Business Awards