Prince Charles was the first child born to Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Charles was born on November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace in London After the death of this grandfather, King George VI, the accession of his mother as Queen Elizabeth II made Charles her heir apparent at the age of three in 1952. Moreover, Prince Charles is the longest-serving heir apparent in British history. It has been stated in many areas the Charles had an unhappy time in school, which was also documented in Netflix hit season two, The Crown. But where did Prince Charles go to school?
Prince Charles Home Tutoring and Elementary School:
As when it was the norm at the time, between the ages of five and eight, Charles was educated by a governess named Catherine Peebles (Mipsy). She also described him as a dreamy and thoughtful person.
However, Charles’s private tutoring did not continue longer. In November 1956, Charles started his elementary school at Hill House in west London. It was Charles’s school before being transferred to Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire, England in 1958. Cheam Preparatory School is known as the oldest private school in England. Some of the historical facts reveal that Charles struggled to fit in there and was deeply homesick. The headmaster of the school from the times of Charles schooling era, Peter Beck later on told Radio Time:
“Educationally he was a very hard-working and able boy, very lucid in spoken and written work. Some of his written work was very good indeed.”
Charles with friends at prep school in England, 1957.
Was Prince Charles happy at Gordonstoun?
Charles was sent to another school which was also attended by his father – Gordonstoun in the north-east of Scotland in 1962. It is also said that Charles was very close to The Queen Mother. She also tried to stop Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip from sending their son to the secondary school that is so far away. However, Prince Charles’s father was a tough disciplinarian, persisted because he thought that his son will have more privacy in such a deeply remote area.
From a letter written by The Queen Mother on May 23, 1961, it’s quoted that he would be “terribly cut off and lonely in the far north.”
She adds more: “ I suppose he will be taking his entrance exam for Eton soon. I do hope he passes because it might be the ideal school for one of his character and temperament.”
Prince Charles Good time at Timbertop Campus in Victoria:
In 1966, when Charles was 17 years old, he spent two terms at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria. Charles himself describes Timbertop as the happiest time of his life in his whole education. His that love for Australia has continued throughout his whole life.
Charles’s happiness at Timbertop is seen in this photo. Here he is using a bush saw to fell a tree during a trip to Timbertop, an annex of the Geelong Grammar School, Victoria, in 1966.
Vanity Fair states that Charles was liberated by the informality of Australia where he enjoyed quick learning and quoted that “there is no such thing as aristocracy or anything like it.” It was for the first time, he was judged on the way people see you and feel about you. All the students and masters here treated him as one of them, and this was to his surprise he felt little homesickness. However, it was this time in Australia, when the prince learned to meet and greet crowds.
Here are the words of Thomas Garnett, the headmaster of Timbertop; “He was friendly, intelligent, a natural boy with a good sense of humor, someone who by no means has an easy task ahead of him in life.”
The time when Charles returned to Gordonstoun after his time Down Under, he was made Head Boy just like his father was before him. However, he never warmed to the boarding school like his athletic father did and used to describe it as “a prison sentence”. One of the former school friends said that he was relentlessly bullied there.
How was Prince Charles in his school life?
Charles writing a letter to home in 1963 wrote: “The people in my dormitory are foul. Goodness, they are horrid. I don’t know how anybody could be so foul.”
We’ve also observed in episode 9, season two of The Crown, that the Prince’s experiences at the school, focusing on his shabby dormitory, hostile classmates and freezing morning runs. Whereas, in an Observer interview from the ’70s, the Prince said: “I am glad I went to Gordonstoun. It wasn’t the toughness of the place – that’s all much exaggerated by the report – it was the general character of the education there – Kurt Hahn’s principles; an education putting effort to balance the physical and mental with emphasis on self-reliance to develop a rounded human being.
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Prince Charles’s school was a bad experience is explained by himself in words: “I didn’t enjoy school as much as I might have, but that was only because I’m happier at home than anywhere else.” He also states that the “discipline” at the school gives “shape and form and tidiness” to one’s life. Moreover, despite not having a good school experience, Prince Charles earned two A-levels: History (grade B) and French (grade C). After him, his two brothers; Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were also sent to Gordonstoun.
Prince Charles to Break Royal Tradition:
Charles broke the royal tradition again, when he joining his A-levels, rather than joining the British Armed Forces like his ancestors. Charles started at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1967 and studied anthropology, archeology, and history. Meanwhile, in his second year, Charles attended the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth and studied Welsh history and language for a term. He got graduated from Cambridge with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts degree on June 23, 1970. Furthermore, Prince Charles was the first heir apparent to earn a university degree. By August 1975, he was also awarded a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge.