Fay Schlesinger and Hannah Roberts
Last updated at 11:53 AM on 4th April 2011
All smiles: Kate Middleton on her final day at St Andrew’s prep school in Pangbourne
Kate Middleton may have been forced to leave a leading public school by ‘insidious’ girls who wrote her off as skinny and meek, it has emerged.
The 29-year-old spent only two terms at Downe House before leaving in April 1996 for Marlborough College.
As a day girl, not a boarder, she was in the minority in the cliquey environment of a girls’ school, it is understood. And former pupils say her reticent manner and gangly appearance made her a sitting duck for more assertive classmates.
The revelations come ahead of a book which claims to lift the lid on why Miss Middleton’s parents withdrew her from Downe House, where fees are £10,000 a term.
But more lurid claims that female tormentors smeared the 13-year-old’s bed with excrement as part of a targeted hate campaign were last night denied by close friends of Prince William’s fianc
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Jessica Hay, who shared a dormitory with Miss Middleton after she moved to Marlborough at 14, is reported to have made the allegations when interviewed for the new biography.
Last night, she insisted that Miss Middleton confided in her about cruelty at Downe House during late-night heart-to-hearts.
‘She said that there was a group of girls that called her names and they stole her books and stuff – little things like that. They rounded up on her a bit because she was quite a soft and nice person…
‘When she used to go to lunch she would sit down with people and they all used to get up and sit on another table.’
But Miss Hay contradicted her reported claims about faeces when told that Miss Middleton normally made the journey home to Bucklebury in Berkshire each day – and was unlikely to have regularly used a bed at Downe House.
Lurid claims: Kate Middleton with Jessica Hay, right, who was interviewed for a book about Miss Middleton’s school days
Miss Hay, who has left her job at a law firm to concentrate on selling her story, claimed she had been misquoted in a News Of The World story previewing the book, called Kate, which is due to be published by best-selling author Sean Smith on May 2.
She said: ‘I found it quite unfair. I didn’t even get any payment for it. My friends are going to be thinking, “She’s sold herself out”.’
Last month, the Mail revealed the significance of Miss Middleton’s decision to select an anti-bullying charity as a cause that ‘resonates’ with her and Prince William.
The inclusion of London-based Beatbullying in the couple’s new charitable foundation was understood to be a subtle admission that she, like two out of three pupils, suffered at the hands of bullies. One 29-year-old, who was in Miss Middleton’s year at Downe House, said this week: ‘Tall and shy – those were her most memorable attributes.
‘You didn’t get much impression of a personality really. She was unrecognisable as the person she is now.’
Another schoolmate said: ‘She was fairly quiet and very nice… She didn’t enjoy it because she was a day girl in a school that was 90 per cent boarders.’
And a third said she appeared to suffer from eczema, which is known to flare up when sufferers are stressed. This claim is thought to be backed up in the new book.
At the weekend Miss Middleton’s former headmistress insisted there was no ‘serious’ harassment, but described the ‘catty’ atmosphere and classroom pranks that could have left her feeling ‘like a fish out of water’.
Susan Cameron, who was in charge of Downe House for seven years, told The Mail On Sunday: ‘Yes, there would be teasing.
‘It’s all part of the normal competition of growing up, of establishing a pecking order.
‘I think it’s fair to say Kate was unsettled and not particularly happy’
Susan Cameron, former Downe House mistress
‘Girls are cliquey by nature and they can be rather cruel…They can sense those who are slightly weaker, or who haven’t shown their strengths yet, and it’s those girls who are likely to end up being picked on or teased.
‘Boys will have a bit of a spat and knock someone over but girls will be more insidious and catty. They know where it hurts. I’ve seen my fair share of that. Any school that says they don’t have any bullying at all is probably lying. It depends how you define it.’
‘I think it’s fair to say she was unsettled and not particularly happy. Maybe in Kate’s case she just kind of went quiet and didn’t say anything.’
Teenage kicks: Miss Middleton went on to much happier years at Marlborough. Here she is pictured at a house party with friends from the school in 2000
Miss Middleton had been content and popular as a boarder at St Andrew’s private school in Pangbourne until she was 13, before moving to Downe House in Cold Ash, Thatcham, near her parents’ home, in September 1995.
One source told Mr Smith: ‘In our peer group she was regarded as a nonentity. All the social-climbing girls – and there were lots of them at Downe House – thought she was not worth bothering with.’
Royal sources are furious that Miss Hay has made a series of dubious allegations. It was she who said that Miss Middleton had a poster of Prince William on her wall at school – which Miss Middleton denied in an interview last year.
A close friend of Miss Middleton’s said of Miss Hay last night: ‘She is not and never has been a friend. Many claims are just fantasies.’
St James’s Palace declined to comment.
MIDDLETONS REBRAND AMID CLAIMS THEY’RE ‘CASHING IN’
A number of seemingly wedding-related products have been removed from the Party Pieces website of Kate Middleton’s parents and rebranded.
Carole and Mike Middleton, pictured, have dropped products including royal-themed scratchcards and crowned corgi cupcake decorations.
They have also renamed the remaining ‘British Street Party’ products as the ‘Best of British Party’ range, in an apparent attempt to distance the products from the celebrations surrounding their daughter’s wedding.
British Street Party products went on sale only six weeks before the date of Miss Middleton’s upcoming marriage to Prince William.
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Pretty sad to see some former school friends trying to ride on the coat tails of Kate’s fame.
Her only crime was to fall in love with a member of the royal family. You can’t help who you fall in love with.
Teenage girls can be bitchy as hell and these former friends are probably just envious of her right now. Stories like this just make them look bitter and sad.
Kate and the royals shouldn’t worry about stories like this and they and the people that wrote them will soon disappear into obscurity as long as a fuss is not made about it.
I’ve had my own experiences with bullying in America. When I was 14, there was one boy in school who picked on me all the time and made my life hell. He was so mean and I hated him. 30 years later, thanks to Facebook, we met again. At first I wanted nothing to do with him but we started to talk online, exchanged messages and eventually became friends. He had changed a lot as an adult and I genuinely liked the person he became. He had his problems, I could tell, and I forgave him for everything from the past. There were no hard feelings. He lived on the opposite side of the US from me but I was planning a trip to that area in February and thought it would be nice to drop by and see him in person. He was very open to it and I looked forward to it. The day I was due to go see him I got a call saying he killed himself 2 days earlier. I was horrified. To this day I wonder if he couldn’t handle seeing me again. I cried bitterly. You never know the course life will take.
No matter what Kate’s disposition at school – her very same nature means she’s now far better off than these pathetic bullies and half-baked staff. Who can help being skinny if it’s natural at that age. And quieter pupils tend to observe more and learn more – the entire point of schooling I thought.
Nothing ‘weak’ about being the quiet type – the teacher who made that comment wasn’t fit to be teaching staff at all – that’s the very same mentality of the opportunistic, cowardly bullies! They only pick on those they consider weaker – and are sometimes surprised when the tables turn.
It doesn’t stop at school either. Women can be incredibly unkind to their own. Often, she who shouts the loudest is thought of as ‘great fun’, yet, in the shadows are the really interesting women who really can’t be bothered to compete.
She’s had her 15 minutes of fame, whether it is based on truth, only she knows. Interesting that such little integrity is shown by someone previously working in a law firm!
Allow me to get a little off the topic.
……a book which claims to lift the lid on why Miss Middleton’s parents withdrew her from Downe House…..
I do not understand how can those so called authors simply write about whoever they want without the real person’s approvment and only interview a few ‘friend’ or ‘close aids’ instead?
My apology if Kate had approved it. But if not, personally I feel such action has no different with taking her pictures from private occasions. Is there any law that enable her to sue?
Bullying in various forms was rife in all schools I went to in the 60s and 70s and I am sure it still is. Its worse when you are a boarder because there is no escape from it, and its all down to you to find a way to get through 6 years of boarding. Also if you are physically different like being very tall for your age i.e. a child in a woman’s body its an immediate ‘pick-out’ quality. Then add in dyslexia in a top academic school with no help whatsoever. Needless to say it all left its marks but through the wonderful work of a charity called ‘boarding school survirors’ run by nick Duffnell it is now a memory not an overriding affective arc in life.
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