Readers in southern France might be astonished to learn that here in the UK, we have a university named after Simon de Montfort. Although back in13th century England he called the first directly elected parliament in medieval Europe; was Earl of Leicester and de facto ruler of the kingdom, in France, he was an all-round Bad Guy, a crucial part of the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, and responsible for the deaths of 1000s.
Our daughter Emily has just graduated from the university in Leicester that bears his name, De Montfort University. Here’s a record of her special day. For us, it was a chance to meet her friends, her friends’ parents, and to celebrate with them the award of their degrees after 3 years’ work.
Emily’s is one of the newer universities, and yet the ceremony was as traditional as those in the much older institutions attended by my other two children. Well, why not? Each graduand is part of a tradition of education stretching back to the early middle ages – well before the time of Simon de Montfort. Their colourful robes – and the even more splendid costumes of those with PhDs, reflect that long tradition. They’re rightly proud to wear them. And I’m so proud of all three of my children, and of what they’ve achieved.