The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are ‘progressing rapidly’ with their plans for a new life in the Home Counties.
The couple are understood to be finalising arrangements to move Prince George to a new prep school in Berkshire this September, with co-educational Lambrook, near Ascot, thought to be the front runner.
But Princess Charlotte, six, is more likely to remain at Thomas’s Battersea for the time being where she is ‘super happy and settled’ and is expected to be joined by her brother, Prince Louis, who turns four this spring.
The couple are also still eyeing up properties in the Windsor area – having looked at several potential family homes on the Queen’s Berkshire estate – with a view to living in the Royal Borough at weekends and holidays.
Handily, Windsor is only a short drive from Kate’s family home in Bucklebury. Her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, are doting and very hands-on grandparents.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are said to be finalising arrangements to move Prince George (pictured on his first day of school) to a new prep school in Berkshire this September
However Kensington Palace, where they live in Apartment 1A, and have their offices and their charitable Royal Foundation, will remain their weekday base.
It means that in the near future Anmer Hall, their Norfolk home, may revert back to the Queen to pass on to another family member or rented out privately.
The changes have come as William and Kate are starting to map out where they see their family settling down.
It could, of course, be another 20 years before the couple accede to the throne and they are keen to afford their offspring as normal childhoods as possible before then.
Sources say they adore Norfolk and, if their circumstances had been different, would have loved to bring their children up on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.
But they took the house on when William was based in Cambridge working for East Anglian Air Ambulance and their lives are very different now.
Co-educational Lambrook, near Ascot, is thought to be the front runner for George (pictured) but Ludgrove, where Prince William and Prince Harry went, is also being considered
Anmer is a long commute from London, often requiring them to travel by helicopter, and simply isn’t a practical option.
They have a comfortable home-office arrangement at Kensington Palace and are acutely conscious of the £4.5million cost to taxpayers of renovating their 20-room family apartment, in addition to creating new working space.
And their roles require them to be in London more often than not. As a result they have decided to continue living there, even when they become Prince and Princess of Wales, in term-time at least.
But both William and Kate are country people at heart, a love that has been inherited by their children.
Although George, who will turn nine in July, is also extremely happy at Thomas’s in London, his parents believe it is time for him to transfer to an out-of-town school, where all the facilities are on one campus, the Daily Mail understands from multiple, well-placed sources.
Weekly or ‘flexi’ boarding is on the cards. Both William and Kate were boarders from a young age.
Ludgrove, the all-boys Berkshire boarding-only school where Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, went from the ages of eight to 13, is being considered.
And the couple have been spotted at both St Andrew’s in Pangbourne, where Kate was a pupil – and some insiders think is a good contender – as well as Papplewick, another boys’ school in Ascot.
Apparently on a visit to Papplewick one pupil told Kate that ‘she looked just like the Duchess of Cambridge’.
Sources do tell the Mail, however, that the couple have been seen visiting Lambrook ‘multiple times’ – where William is even said to have chatted with a pupil about Latin lessons.
As a co-educational establishment, it would allow the Cambridges to send all three children to the same school when Charlotte and Louis, who currently attends Wilcocks Nursery, are older.
Lambrook’s leavers go on to a host of prestigious public schools, including Eton. Pictured: Prince William at Eton at age 18
The school charges between £6,448 and £6,999 per term plus a further £1,481 per term for boarding and has been described as ‘bucolic’, with one reviewer saying they spotted ‘children cartwheeling on the croquet lawn… sporting proper rosy cheeks and a healthy outdoorsy glow.’
Its leavers go on to a host of prestigious public schools, including Eton.
It means that George is very likely to follow in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps at 13.
Earlier this month the Mail revealed that Windsor Castle was being earmarked for the Cambridges one day, instead of Prince Charles who prefers Highgrove.
While at school William often walked from Eton to have lunch with his granny at her Berkshire residence.
A source said: ‘It’s an open secret the Cambridges are looking to settle in Berkshire and George is set to leave Thomas’s this summer, unless circumstances suddenly change.
‘It’s the talk of the county and they will, of course, be made extremely welcome.
‘They always put their children front and centre of everything they do, so finding the right school has been a priority. It’s about what works for them as a family.’
Another source, while aware the family were looking at options in Berkshire, stressed no ‘firm decisions’ had yet been made.
Kensington Palace declined to comment.