School days revealed of Royal bride's father
8:01am Thu Apr 21, 2011
 
An academic who watched a television programme about Royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton’s family realised her father used to shine his shoes.
Mr Stephen Bell. 190411JT1-12
Mr Stephen Bell. 190411JT1-12
Mr Stephen Bell was watching Meet The Middletons on Monday night on Channel 4 when he realised he attended the same school as Mr Michael Middleton, who will walk his daughter down the aisle of Westminster Abbey a week tomorrow.

Mr Bell, 66, of Spalford, was in his final year and a prefect at the exclusive boys’ boarding school, Clifton College, in Bristol, when Mr Middleton joined.

“I was stunned when a picture of Clifton College came on and it said Kate’s father went there,” Mr Bell said.

He still has a register of pupils and the accolades they achieved at Clifton, and soon found Mr Middleton.

“There he is, Michael Francis Middleton — arrived at school in 1962 — my last year,” Mr Bell said.

“He did very well, becoming a prefect himself and, looking at his record, represented the school at rugby in the 1st XV and getting his tennis colours.”

Prefects such as Mr Bell had younger boys as servants. They were known as fags.

“There was a fagging system. Back then a fag was a junior boy,” said Mr Bell, whose father was in the diplomatic service.

“During the course of my last year Michael Middleton was my fag.

“He would do all the jobs I called upon him to do; shining my shoes, polishing my uniform, sweeping out the study, making my cocoa.

“He cleaned my uniform when I was company sergeant major in the Combined Cadet Force.

“One of the few mementoes I still have from Clifton is the badge from my beret. It was his job to make it sparkle.

“I remember him to be very cooperative and a very nice chap.”

Mr Bell went on to voluntary service overseas and then embarked on a career as an academic travelling and writing with a specialisation in Ethiopian history.

He said Clifton College was very much run along the system of Victorian character building with corporal punishment.

“It was designed to produce leaders for the empire but that empire no longer existed,” Mr Bell said.

“At 13 it was a miserable existence but it got better as you got older and by the time you made prefect life was just about bearable.”

Mr Bell said he wished Mr Middleton well and that he believed in a constitutional monarchy and thought from what he had seen, Kate would make a good queen should Prince William be crowned king.

Mr Middleton, a former flight dispatcher, runs a business, Party Pieces, with his wife, Carole.

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