Over £2.2 million was raised at a Gala Benefit dinner for the University of St Andrews attended by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Tuesday 9 December night.
The money raised by the event, which took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, will go towards student scholarships as well as facilities for medicine, science and sport.
The event, for which guests paid as much as $10,000 per ticket, included a charity auction. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ann Gloag and Ian Rankin were among those to make significant donations. The night also included a performance by the opera singer Renee Fleming, a triple-Grammy award-winning soprano, who sang Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and the Puccini aria O Mio Babbino Caro.
US comedian and presenter, Seth Meyers, gave a toast at the event, after the previous host Tom Hanks – whose daughter attended St Andrews – pulled out at the last minute due to personal reasons.
There were several other famous guests at the event, including Princess Eugenie, the duke’s cousin, actress and fashion designer Mary-Kate Olsen and Vogue Magazine editor Anna Wintour.
In his speech the Duke, who is patron of the 600th anniversary fundraising campaign, spoke warmly of the time that he had spent at the University, graduating in 2005: “I don’t need to tell all of you just how much St Andrew’s University means to me and Catherine,” he said.
“It goes without saying to all of you in this room that the education we received there was first class,” he told guests.
“Louise [University principal Professor Louise Richardson], you may need to close your ears at this point but it’s often said by the undergraduates of St Andrews that you leave the University in either one of two states: either married or an alcoholic.”
“Fortunately for Catherine and me we ended up married. But for those of you who are parents of undergraduates right now, I give you one tip: ask your son or daughter over the holidays if they know what Ma Bells is. If they answer yes, perhaps remove their wine glass out of reach.”
The Duke also paid tribute to the teaching he received at the University: “St Andrews’ blend of academic excellence, mixed with a liberal approach to critical thought and creative reasoning, is one that both our nations, on both sides of the Atlantic, credit with importance.“
University principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson also spoke at the event, remarking that: “We need this endowment so that future leaders of the University can invest in an unfashionable idea, can recruit brilliant but impecunious students, can retain star researchers, and buy time for promising young scholars.”
The event marked the end of the Duke and Duchess’ short but highly publicised trip to the US.
As the couple were leaving for their return flight to London, Professor Richardson gave her thanks on behalf of the University for their constant support and offered a gift – a miniature St Andrews red gown for Prince George.