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Everything you need to know about King Charles’ education – where he went to school and university

Everything you need to know about King Charles’ education – where he went to school and university
Everything you need to know about King Charles’ education – where he went to school and university


Eyes are currently on where Prince George may choose to study in the future, with his parents reportedly visiting a school in Oxford over the weekend, which has gotten us thinking about the education of other members of the royal family.

King Charles broke the mould when the young royal started his education, with the future monarch becoming the first heir apparent to be educated at a school as opposed to from a private tutor, like the late Queen Elizabeth was.

© Keystone
Charles was the first royal to attend school

The King’s educational path saw him follow in the footsteps of his father, the late Prince Philip, as he attended two of the schools that the late Duke of Edinburgh did, however, he reportedly had a much different experience than his father.

Charles also broke with tradition when it came to his university degree, with the royal heading straight into university instead of spending time in the military. Curious about King Charles’ education? Then read on to find out all you need to know…

School

Charles’ first school was Hill House School, in Knightsbridge, which he started attending in November 1956. The school was founded in 1951 by former politician Stuart Townend and it remains in his family, with Richard Townend speaking to the Independent about the royal’s education.

Speaking about how the late Queen and Prince Philip settled on the school, Richard explained: “My father was summoned to tea with the Queen in Buckingham Palace. So, of course, he went and met with the Queen and she grilled him as I understand it. And at the end she said, ‘I think this is the right school for Charles to go to’. It was as simple as that.”

Exterior shot of Hill House School© Peter Macdiarmid
Hill House was Charles’s first school

Charles was treated like any other student, wearing the school’s signature mustard-yellow uniform and walking to the sports field with other students without a bodyguard present. However, Vanity Fair reports that the then young royal arrived for his first day in a limousine.

Charles didn’t stay at Hill House for long though, with the royal being moved to Cheam Preparatory School after nine months, where his father had previously studied. Charles began studying there in September 1957 and remained there until 1962.

Exterior shot of Cheam School© Evening Standard
Cheam was Charles’s second school

Charles arrived with his parents there following a stay at Balmoral and he doffed his blue cap to his new headmaster upon arriving. A newspaper report from the time read: “Mrs Beck led the Duke into the hall after the Queen and Prince Philip. Many of the boys had already arrived and watched through the windows.”

At the start of his studies, Charles was the Duke of Cornwall, however, during his years there, the Queen granted him the titles of Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.

A young King Charles shaking hands with a headmaster with is mother stood behind him. Prince Philip is in a car next to the Prince© Reg Burkett
Charles studied at Cheam just like his father

A report in the local newspaper at the time about how Charles settled into the school read: “Yesterday, Prince Charles was reported to be settling down well at Cheam School and taking a lively interest in his food. Few eight-year-olds can ever experience such a sudden change. Palace to prep school is a big step; the well-sprung mattress is exchanged for a more utilitarian model; the footmen fade away; the luxury of his own coach on the Royal train is supplanted by a dormitory shared with other boys.

“The decision to send the young Prince away to school could not have been taken lightly. Few doubt that it was the right one. And remembering those TV shots of happy, highly excited boys dashing about the school grounds it seems certain that Prince Charles will take his departure, when the time comes, like so many other boys have done, better-equipped for the serious affair of facing the succeeding years.”

A young King Charles in a school uniform© Hulton Archive
Charles was said to have missed being at home

During his time at the school, the royal got involved with several sports teams including cricket, football and rugby and he even became head boy. However, Charles also became quite homesick and would write home every week. In 1958, the late Queen wrote to then Prime Minister Anthony Eden: “Charles is just beginning to dread the return to school next week – so much worse for the second term.”

Charles continued following in Philip’s footsteps with his education, with the Prince then studying at Gordonstoun from May 1962 to 1967. The school, which is based in Elgin, Scotland, has a “unique” approach to education, focusing on practical and life skills over theory from books. It also encourages hardiness amongst its pupils, who reportedly wear shorts year-round and start each day with cold showers.

Exterior shot of Gordonstoun© Andrew Smith/Shutterstock
Charles reportedly had a tough time at Gordonstoun

Philip was one of the original pupils at the school and excelled with this different approach to education, however, it did not suit Charles who was reportedly bullied from his first day there due to his royal lineage.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain in 2022, former student Johnny Stonborough spoke of how Charles was bullied, saying: “On the rugby pitch you would see it. There were a couple of people who said they would ‘do Prince Charles’ and they would beat him up in the scrum, pull his ears and thump him.”

WATCH: Former Gordonstoun students reveals how King Charles was bullied

The King has downplayed reports of him having a poor time there, telling the House of Lords in 1975: “I am always astonished by the amount of rot talked about Gordonstoun and the careless use of ancient clichés used to describe it. It was only tough in the sense that it demanded more of you as an individual than most other schools did – mentally or physically. I am lucky in that I believe it taught me a great deal about myself and my own abilities and disabilities. It taught me to accept challenges and take the initiative.”

University

While it was traditional for royals to enter into military service after school, Charles instead headed to university, enrolling in Trinity College, Cambridge. The royal initially studied archaeology and anthropology before he began studying history. Charles also pursued acting, which was a passion of his, joining Trinity’s Dryden Society.

Exterior shot of Cambridge University© Geoff Robinson/Shutterstock
The King finished his education at Cambridge University

The King left university with a 2:2 and he officially began carrying out royal duties during his final year, including his first Privy Council meeting, royal trips to Australia and Japan and attending the State Opening of Parliament.

DISCOVER: Prince Harry’s secret security measures at Eton revealed

SEE: 9 royals on the school run: Princess Kate, Sarah Ferguson and more stylish mums

Charles also spent a three-month term at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, ahead of his investiture as the Prince of Wales. Owing to Welsh nationalist sentiment at the time, Charles had a troubled time during his three-month semester, telling the Telegraph: “Every day I had to go down to the town where I went to these lectures, and most days there seemed to be a demonstration going on against me.”

LISTEN: All you need to know about the royal family’s education



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