June 23, 2005 10:00 AM

Thursday was graduation day for Prince William at Scotland’s St. Andrews University, an event that brought out his proud father, Prince Charles, his stepmom, the Duchess of Cornwall, and grandparents Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

As befits such occasions – and these particular participants – there was plenty of pomp and circumstance.

“Today is a very special day for me and I am delighted that I can share it with my family, and in particular with my grandmother, who has made such an effort to come having been under the weather,” said William, referring to the queen, who’s getting over a cold.

As William, who turned 23 on Monday, graduated (with a Master of Arts in geography), so did 260 other students – including the prince’s girlfriend Kate Middleton, who wore a sexy black miniskirt under her university gown.

In a statement, the graduate said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at St Andrews and I shall be very sad to leave. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has made my time here so enjoyable… I am going to miss being in Scotland – I have got used to the weather and all the golf chat!”

Later in the day, the palace released details of what the young royal plans to do in the coming months, starting with his heading to New Zealand next week for some rugby watching and his first solo official engagements.

Further summer plans include learning about international finance and commerce with a London financial institution and about land management on a country estate, and helping with a mountain rescue team.

“Joining a mountain rescue team really appealed to me as I can learn at first hand how these amazing people help save lives on a regular basis,” said William. “I very much hope that these work placements will give me hands-on experience in three very different, but important areas.”

Early next year, it is expected he will enter the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where his younger brother, Harry, is already training.

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