A PORT Glasgow school gave a real royal welcome to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they made a very special visit.

Prince William and his wife Kate were at St John's Primary to learn more about a life-changing early intervention programme which is run by the charity Action for Children in Inverclyde's schools.

Both the Duke and Duchess came along to join the primary three class in their Roots of Empathy session, along with the star of the show, 10-month-old Saul Molloy.

St John's acting head teacher Martin Craig revealed that while saying his farewells Prince William spoke about the happiness he felt in the school.

Mr Craig said: "We are ecstatic that our school has had such a high profile visit.

"They were both wonderful, they were so down to earth and made everyone in the room feel so calm and relaxed.

"In his closing remarks to me Prince William told me they could feel the happiness and the empathy in the school, which was so special to hear and means such a lot.

"We have a great school here in St John's.

"He said that from the moment they arrived in the building they could feel it.

"I am just so proud of this school and being part of the Roots of Empathy programme - we see the impact of it every day."

The visit was weeks in the making but had to be kept under wraps to comply with security arrangements.

Mr Craig: "It was so special to bring the school together as a community.

"It was a hard secret to keep and it took weeks of preparation but we got there in the end."

The children, led by family link worker Joan Boyland, were on hand to help the Royal couple sing nursery rhyme favourites like Ali Bali Bee as they learned more about an initiative that is helping change young lives in Inverclyde.

Ten-month-old Saul comes in to the school regularly to visit and has a special bond with the children.

The royal couple listened in as the children asked his mum Laura questions and looked on as they played with him.

As patron of Action for Children, Kate, who also has her own early years foundation, was keen to learn more about the impact of the initiative.

She later spoke to primary seven pupils Annie Jones and Zac Hughes who both took part in the project when they were younger.

The duchess asked the pair if they had taken what they learned home with them and asked if they thought it should be in every school.

Speaking to the royal couple, Annie said: "It definitely should, I really feel like it gave me a real understanding of empathy and I remember it all."

The Duchess of Cambridge said: "It is so important to talk about the links between kindness, compassion and empathy."

As the couple prepared to greet the crowds waiting outside in the playground, the sunshine broke through and cheers rang out.

The future King and his wife then spent time going along the line, speaking to children, teachers and staff.

Excited primary seven pupil Millie Dougan said: "I held the door open for them.

"Kate shook my hand, she was lovely and we will never forget today."

Primary one pupil Jacob Soutar added: "Kate asked me what I liked to do and when I told her I liked to climb trees she said that she did too."

Grace McEwan said: "She was a really beautiful princess, she was really lovely."

On the visit the royal couple also met with Inverclyde Council chief executive Louise Long, education director Ruth Binks and head of education Michael Roach.

Ms Long said: "We are so proud to have welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"In Inverclyde nurture is right at the very heart of everything we do in our schools and in the council and we were delighted to showcase the work we do with Action for Children."

Kate and William also spoke to Action for Children's director Paul Carberry and Roots of Empathy service co-ordinator Susan Robison.

They came to Port Glasgow as part of their two day tour of Scotland in the run up to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The Lord Lieutenant Peter McCarthy said: "It is wonderful to have a royal visit like this in the run up to the Platinum Jubilee, ten years after the Queen came to Inverclyde.

"It is a real honour for Inverclyde, we had three seasons in the one morning but then the sun came out and it was marvellous to see all the children's happy faces."