Saint Andrews is a seacoast town on the east of Scotland, north of Edinburgh, south of Dundee. It is often associated with golf. That makes sense as there are seven courses in the area, including The Old Course, which is often the site of the British Open. It’s said that Mary Queen of Scots played a few rounds in Saint Andrews in the 1500s, and that the game has been played in the area since the fourteenth century.
There is a good bit more to the town than its golfing connections, however. Parts of the movie Chariots of Fire were filmed on its seashore, and further back in time, Saint Andrews was the scene of violent conflict during the Scottish reformation. That is one of the reasons that Saint Andrew’s Cathedral now stands in ruins. The town center still retains much of its medieval character, however. helped along by the presence of the University of Saint Andrews. Many of the university’s buildings date from the 1400s. The university is equal to Oxford and Cambridge in academic rigor and reputation, and is the third oldest university in the English speaking world. It is looking forward to celebrating six hundred years of turning out graduates in 2013.
The quadrangle of Saint Salvator’s College, one of the oldest colleges which make up the university, will be the place for a celebration marking a milestone in the lives of two of its recent graduates this spring, as well. HRH Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton both graduated in 2005, he with a degree in geography and she with an honors degree in art history. It was in the relaxed and relatively quiet atmosphere of Saint Andrews that the two first met and got to know each other. As you may have heard, they will be celebrating their wedding on 29 April, at Westminster Abbey in London, with all the pomp, circumstance, and fanfare that goes along with a royal wedding.
The celebrations in Saint Andrews are likely to be a bit more informal. The folk at Ruby’s Chinese takeaway may remember their former customers, and the people at Ma Bell’s Pub may recall the couple stopping in of an evening, as well. At Saint Salvator’s, where both Prince William and Catherine studied, the quad between the ancient buildings will be the place for a ceilidh on the Thursday evening before the ceremony — a ceilidh (which is pronounced, roughly, KAY-lee) — is a celebration with music, dance, good conversation, and general merriment. On the Friday morning of the ceremony, fifteen hundred lucky Saint Andrews residents, winners of free tickets which were distributed by lot, will enjoy a wedding breakfast and music by Skerryvore and other musicians. Then they will get to watch the broadcast of the service from Westminster Abbey on big screens set up on the quad – and word has it they may even see themselves, as scenes of various celebrations are integrated into the broadcast program.
photograph of the quadrangle at Saint Salvator’s courtesy of the University of Saint Andrews