Where did the royal children go to school?
6th August 2023

From ‘Colditz in kilts’ to a prep school ‘with a heart of gold’ – where did the royal children go to school?

  • Once they were tutored privately, but now royal children go to school
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It might seem obvious that children in Royal Family would attend one or other of the most prestigious schools in the country.

That, after all, is how aristocrats tend to do it. 

Today there is mounting speculation that nine-year-old Prince George will eventually go to Eton. 

Yet until comparatively recent times, royal children did not go to school at all and were educated, instead, by private tutors and governesses.

This was the case for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, for example. 

So the decision to send a young Prince Charles to Hill House junior school in Kensington and Knightsbridge was radical for its time.

Since then, in line with a steadily modernising monarchy, it has become quite normal for the children of royalty to rub shoulders with other children in class. 

Where, then, did they go to school – and what was the result? 

Hill House School

Prince Charles going for a walk with other pupils while at Hill house school in Knightsbridge

A young Prince Charles playing cricket during sports day at Hill House in 1957

At eight years old, King Charles began his formal education at Hill House School in west London where he stayed for six months before moving to Cheam School, where he remained for five years.

His parents, the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip decided that their son would be educated among others, as opposed to using private tutors.

The school was founded in 1951 by athlete and Liberal Party politician Lt-Col Stuart Townend with his wife, Beatrice. 

Cheam Preparatory School

Prince Charles pictured walking to Cheam School in Berkshire in his school uniform in 1958

Charles later went on study at Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire. 

The late Prince Philip had himself attended the school at the age of seven in 1928.

Philip left when he was 12 years old to spend a year at Salem School in southern Germany, run by the famous educationalist, Kurt Hahn, who also founded Gordonstoun and Atlantic College.

Gordonstoun

At the beginning of his education at Gordonstoun, Prince Philip was one of only 21 boys at the school. Pictured: Philip in a school play of Macbeth in 1935

Queen Elizabeth II and The Prince of Wales at Gordonstoun School, where three generations of royals have attended over the years

 Prince Philip became the first of three royal generations to attend Gordonstoun in Moray, Scotland.

Founded by German educator Kurt Hahn, it promoted the idea of activity-based, experiential learning with plenty of outdoor activity. 

Kahn also founded the outward-bound movement and established Atlantic College, the sixth form institute on the Welsh Coast known as ‘Hippy Hogwarts’ which has educated a number of European royals.

Hahn had fled his native Germany and found refuge in Scotland after being arrested by the Nazis for speaking out against them. 

When Philip arrived at Gordonstoun, he was one of only 21 boys there, but he fitted in well. 

A talented athlete, he became Head of the School and Captain of Hockey and Cricket.

 

Zara Phillips at Gordonstoun boarding school in Elgin, Scotland in May 1990

Peter Phillips pictured in action as captain of his school rugby team at Gordonstoun

Prince Charles was less enamoured. Later he would complain of having been bullied – including for having big ears – and would describe the Gordonstoun regime as ‘Colditz in kilts’. 

Princes Andrew and Edward seemed to enjoy their time better. 

Gordonstoun was coeducational by the time Philip’s grandchildren, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, were school age.

Zara was in fact the the second royal girl to go there as Lady Helen Taylor, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent had led the way.

The emphasis on the outdoor life seems to have suited Peter and Zara very well. 

Gordonstoun has been the ‘world leader in character education’ for over 80 years and was the birthplace of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which goes hand in hand with the extensive range of outdoor education opportunities and extracurricular activities.

Benenden School

Princess Anne going to church whilst at Benenden School in Kent on January 20, 1966

Princess Anne, centre, with fellow pupils at Benenden School in Kent after attending a church service given by the Archbishop of Canterbury on speech day

Princess Anne was educated at home for the first 13 years of her life but started at Benenden School in Kent in 1963.

It was suggested that Anne herself had taken the initiative and and asked her mother, Queen Elizabeth if she could go to school, just as her brother Charles had done.

The grounds of Benenden featured 16 tennis courts, a swimming pool and a lake on which girls could skate in the winter.

Princess Anne left the school with six GCE O-levels and three A-levels. Pictured: The Princess at Benenden School in September 1963

For the next five years, Benenden became as much home to her as Buckingham Palace, however, there was certainly a stark contrast in living style.

At her own request, Anne was treated just like any other of the girls and was expected to make her own bed, wait on tables and help with the washing up.

During her final year at Benenden she was the senior girl in Guildford House, where  responsible for welcoming new girls to the school.

Princess Anne left the school with six GCE O-levels and three A-levels.

Collingham College

Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke of Edinburgh and their children Prince Edward, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Prince Andrew, at Balmoral in 1979

Before following his brothers to Gordonstoun, Prince Edward started his formal education at Collingham College, which was then known as Gibbs School, in Kensington.

Founded in 1975, it was situated close the Victoria & Albert Museum, Imperial College and the Natural History Museum (founded by Edward’s great-great-great grandfather, Prince Albert).

Prince Edward’s cousin David Armstrong-Jones, son of Princess Margaret and now 2nd Earl of Snowdon, also attended Collingham College.

Bedales School

Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto visiting Bedales School with their parents, Anthony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret

Following his time at Collingham College, David Armstrong-Jones (then titled Viscount Linley) studied at fee-paying Bedales School from the late 1970s.

And it was there that he developed a passion for arts and crafts. He eventually became a cabinet maker of distinction.

His sister, Lady Sarah Chatto, also  attended Bedales, where she left with a single A level in Art before enrolling at the Camberwell School of Art. Today she is an award-winning artist under the name Sarah Armstrong-Jones.

Bedales, in the village of Steep, near Petersfield in Hampshire was founded in 1893 by John Haden Badley in reaction to the limitations of conventional Victorian schools.

It has been been co-educational since 1898.

Wetherby School

Princess Diana was photographed seeing her two young sons off to Wetherby in 1989

Princes William and Harry began their education at Wetherby School pre-preparatory school in Notting Hill. 

In the 1980s, Diana was often photographed dropping off William and Harry at the school’s bright red door in their distinctive uniforms of grey felt blazers trimmed with red -and topped off with a grey cap.

It has long been a sought-after institution. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Julian Fellowes, Hugh Grant and Romeo Beckham all spent time there. 

Ludgrove

Prince William greeted by Headmaster Gerald Barber on his first day of school at Ludgrove

Princess Diana, King Charles and Prince William at Ludgrove School in Wokingham, in 1990

William and Harry then went on to attend Ludgrove School near Wokingham in Berkshire, which was about a 30-minute drive from the Queen’s Windsor Castle.

And while the boys’ enrolment at Ludgrove in the early 90s coincided with Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marital problems, which were widely covered in the media, Ludgrove protected the young Princes. 

It was reported that newspapers were banned from the school’s library and all pupil’s television viewing was restricted and monitored.

Ludgrove was founded in 1892 at Ludgrove Hall by the Old Etonian sportsman Arthur Dunn. It is an independent boy’s day and boarding school for children aged 8-13. 

Built on 130 acres in rural Berkshire, there are gardens and woodlands for the children to explore. They take part in games five afternoons a week.

Eton

Prince William in his school uniform on his first full day at Eton College, Berkshire on September 7, 1995

Prince William pictured posting as one Eton’s 21 elected prefects during his final year

William went on to study at Eton College in 1995. In doing so, he  became the first senior member of the royal family to attend the school, which was founded by Henry VI in 1440.

He was joined by his brother Prince Harry in 1998.

However, members of the Spencer family, including the late Princess Diana’s father and brother, went to Eton.

William left Eton with three A Levels: an A in Geography, a B in History of Art and a C in Biology, plus 12 GCSEs.

Prince Harry, King Charles and Prince William during Harry’s Confirmation at Eton in March 2000

Lady Sarah Chatto with her husband Daniel Chatto and their two sons, Samuel and Arthur CHatto at the Royal Ascot in June 2012

Harry was less successful academically left with two A Levels,  a B in Art and a D in Geography. Harry dropped History of Art after AS level.

Other royals attending Eton include the three grandsons of Princess Margaret, Charles Armstrong-Jones, and Arthur and Samuel Chatto.

Following reports that Prince George was recently spotted on the campus of Eton, royal fans have wondered if he might be about to follow in his father’s footsteps.

The nine-year-old currently attends  Lambrook prep school in Berkshire.

Lambrook School

Having moved to Windsor last summer, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis began attending Lambrook School almost a year ago

Having moved to Windsor last summer, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis began attending the boarding school for three to 13-year-olds near Ascot, just a 10-minute drive from Adelaide Cottage. 

Set in 52 acres of beautiful Berkshire countryside, Lambrook boasts of ‘first-class teaching and superb facilities’ which include a 25-metre swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, an astroturf, hard courts, a squash court, cricket and other sports pitches.

George, Charlotte and Louis are able to enjoy activities such as bee-keeping and scuba diving, whilst the school also hosts Harry Potter evenings.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, accompanied by their parents, as they were greeted by Headmaster Jonathan Perry at Lambrook School

The Good Schools Guide describes it as a ‘classic prep school’ with a ‘heart of gold’

The Good Schools Guide describes it as a ‘classic prep school’ with a ‘heart of gold’, and tells of how youngsters get to ‘run and run’ in the vast grounds with ‘total freedom to explore, provided you’ve got your wellies on’.

As of August 2022, fees cost £4,389 a term for Reception to Year 2 pupils such as Louis, £6,448 per term for Years 3-4 like Charlotte, and £6,999 per term for George through Years 5-8, with an additional £1,481 per term for boarding for Y3-8.

Lambrook was founded in 1860 and two of Queen Victoria’s grandsons, Prince Christian Victor and Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, attended, with Victoria travelling from Windsor Castle to watch them in plays and at cricket matches.

Thomas’s Battersea

Princess Charlotte arriving for her first day of school, with her brother Prince George and her parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales on September 5, 2019

Facilities at Thomas’s Battersea include a ballet room, science laboratories, art rooms, and computer suites

Prior to the move, Prince George and his little sister, Princess Charlotte, eight, attended Thomas’s prep school on Battersea High Street.

While George first began attending Thomas’s Battersea in September 2017, his sister Charlotte soon joined him in 2019.

Ahead of her first day of school, the Prince and Princess of Wales released a touching photo of their daughter, arm in arm with her big brother, on the steps of Kensington Palace before she headed off.

Facilities at Thomas’s Battersea include a ballet room, science laboratories, art rooms, computer suites, a rooftop playground and garden, as well as a hall that has been turned into a theatre.

St Andrew’s Prep

Kate Middleton pictured with the hockey team at St. Andrew’s School, where Her Royal Highness attended school from 1986 till 1995

Kate taking part in a day of activities and festivities to mark the occasion of St Andrew’s Day at St Andrew’s School on November 30, 2012

At the age of four, Kate began attending St Andrew’s Prep School, an independent boarding and day school for boys and girls.

The Princess of Wales has previously candidly discussed adoring her time at St Andrew’s prep school in Pangbourne, Berkshire, which she attended from 1986 to 1995.

According to one fellow pupil, Kate thrived in the school’s close-knit, family atmosphere and was captain of the school’s hockey team and a keen tennis player.

During her time at St Andrew’s Prep, Kate both turned her hand to sports and showed an interest in theatre, taking on the role of Eliza Doolittle, aged 11, in the school’s production of My Fair Lady.

She even made a visit to the £8,165-a-term school in November 2012 to officially open a new Astroturf hockey pitch.

In the short speech she gave, the royal described her time at St Andrew’s as some of the ‘happiest years of my life.’‪

Downe House School  

Downe House in Berkshire, an all-girls boarding school where Kate attended for two terms

Kate then went on to endure a brief stint at Downe House, an all-girls boarding school, in Newbury, Berkshire.

The Princess of Wales was at the school for only two terms before leaving in April 1996 for Marlborough College after revealing that she was picked on by other girls.

As a day girl, not a boarder, she was in the minority in the cliquey environment of a girls’ school, where fees are £10,000 a term, it was understood.

And former pupils say her reticent manner and gangly appearance made her a sitting duck for more assertive classmates.

Marlborough College

The Princess of Wales pictured in action during a hockey game at Marlborough College

Kate Middleton (4th from left back row) with the Marlborough College girls’ hockey team

The Princess of Wales then enrolled at the co-ed boarding school Marlborough College in Wiltshire in 1996, where she studied Chemistry, Biology and Art A-level.

 Kate’s house tutor Joan Gall said: ‘When she arrived she was very quiet. Coming into a big school like Marlborough was difficult, but she settled in quickly.

‘It was like a big, happy family. We would do things like bake cakes and watch videos.’ 

Kate Middleton with her friends at a house party at Elmhurst House Marlborough College in 2000

During her four years at the £42,930-per-year school, the future Princess of Wales blossomed into an accomplished one who excelled at hockey and who would go on to become co-captain of the tennis team.

The royal stayed until the age of 18, before attending St. Andrew’s University, where she met Prince William.

Not only did Kate attend Marlborough College, but so did Princess Eugenie from the age of 13.

It is one of the country’s most prestigious public schools, a historic building on the edge of a pretty town that has educated everyone from poets to comedians since it was founded in 1843.

Port Regis School

The late Queen Elizabeth visiting Port Regis School where her grandchildren Peter and Zara Phillips were pupils during their youth

A young Zara Phillips during her sports day at Port Regis School in Shaftesbury, Dorset

Both Zara Tindall and her brother Peter Phillips both attended Port Regis School in Shaftesbury, Dorset, during the primary stages of their education.

The two royals eventually went on to attend Gordonstoun in Scotland like many other members of their family.

Upton House School 

Princess Eugenie’s (left) first day of school at Upton House School in Windsor, where her sister, Princess Beatrice (right) also attended

Princess Beatrice with her mother, Sarah Ferguson, for her first day at Upton House School

Princess Beatrice, the eldest daughter of Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, began her early education at Upton House School in Windsor in 1991. 

Upton House is a co-educational school for boys and girls from two to 11 years old.

Fees per term for the private school attended by the Princesses range between £3,38 and £5,911.

Winkfield Montessori

Just a year after her sister began school, Princess Eugenie started her schooling at Winkfield Montessori in 1992 up until 1993. 

From there, she joined her sister at Upton House School in Windsor.

St George’s School Windsor Castle

Princess Beatrice escorted to St George’s school for her first day by her parents the Duke and Duchess of York on September 6, 2000

Princess Eugenie was all smiles as she posed with her parents for photos on her first day at St George’s in 2001

St George’s School, Windsor Castle, is a co-educational independent preparatory school – just a stone’s throw away from the late Queen’s Windsor lodgings.

The school which was established to provide six choristers for the Choir of St George’s Chapel in 1352 has since opened its doors to a variety of royal students.

From 2000 to 2007, Princess Beatrice continued her education at St George’s School in Ascot – with her younger sister also attending the school briefly.

Another of the late Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren, Lady Louise Windsor, attended the school before moving to St Mary’s School in Ascot in 2017.

Garden House School

Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones began her education at Garden House School before attending St Mary’s School Ascot

Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the daughter of David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon, began her education at Garden House School before attending St Mary’s School Ascot.

The private school is situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and was founded in 1951 by a former gardener, Eitan de Brissac Bernard.

Lady Margarita’s preparatory school costs a staggering £9,200 per term, which includes sports, meals and outings.

St Mary’s School Ascot 

It was at St Mary’s that Lady Louise Windsor chose to attend for the secondary part of her education. Pictured: Playing hockey at an England Hockey training session at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre in 2020

St Mary’s School Ascot is a Roman Catholic independent day and boarding school for girls aged between 11 and 18 years in Ascot, Berkshire.

The boarding school is currently home to 380 pupils, with its past alumni including members of the royal family. 

It was at St Mary’s that Lady Louise Windsor chose to attend for the secondary part of her education, earning A Levels in English, History, Politics and Drama last August.

Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones also briefly attended the school.

She later transferred to Tudor Hall School, an all-girls boarding school in Banbury, Oxfordshire, where she studied History of Art, Jewellery Design, and Photography for her A Levels.

Eagle House School

James, Lord Severn, has attended Eagle House School, Sandhurst in Berkshire, since 2020

As of 2020, James, Lord Severn has attended Eagle House School, a coeducational preparatory school near Sandhurst in Berkshire. 

James, who lives with his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, at the family home of Bagshot Park in Surrey, is reportedly enrolled as a day pupil at the prestigious school.

As a fee-paying independent school, parents of its pupils pay more than £18,000 a year to send their children there.

West Heath Girls School

Princess Diana (middle row, centre) began her formal education at Riddlesworth Hall Preparatory School in Riddlesworth

Princess Diana visiting Riddlesworth Hall School, her old school in Norfolk, in April 1989

The Princess of Wales with her two sisters, Lady Jane Fellowes and Sarah  McCorquodale, and their old headmistress Ruth Rudge on the steps of their old school, West Heath School in 1987

While Princess Diana was initially home-schooled, the then Lady Spencer began her formal education at Riddlesworth Hall Preparatory School in Riddlesworth, Norfolk.

In 1974, Princess Diana followed her sisters to West Heath Girls’ School in Sevenoaks, Kent.

At school, she showed a particular talent for music (as an accomplished pianist), dancing and domestic science, and gained the school’s award for the girl giving maximum help to the school and her schoolfellows.

She left West Heath in 1977 and went to finishing school at the Institut Alpin Videmanette in Rougemont, Switzerland, which she left after the Easter term of 1978.

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