Royal education has changed through time, so find out where King Charles III and his family had their school days

Royal education has changed dramatically over the years, and the UK Royal Family’s school days reveal shifting trends in society. Now, with the Coronation of HRH King Charles III and the dawn of a new Carolean era, there is interest in all aspects of UK Royal Family history.  That includes the education influences that shaped both the soon-to-be-crowned UK monarch and his immediate family.

Tradition of learning

Queen Elizabeth II did not go to school, in keeping with the tradition for the monarchy at that time. Instead, she had expert teaching from some of the finest minds, including the then Vice-Provost of Eton Henry Marten. Her early learning was steered by both her parents and her Scottish governess Marion Crawford. With a thorough grounding in areas such as constitutional history and geography, the Queen also became fluent in both French and German.

Royal education – the UK Royal Family's school days
The late Queen Elizabeth was home schooled, preparing her for life on the throne

She and her sister, Princess Margaret, were the last generation of the UK Royal Family to be home schooled. While the late Queen’s education was in keeping with attitudes of the time, it was also shaped by wartime necessity and the abdication of Edward VIII that had changed the course of royal history.

Schools for leaders

The late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh had blissfully happy days at Gordonstoun, joining as one of the Scottish independent school’s first pupils in 1934. So, unsurprisingly, he chose this for his three sons – including the heir apparent Prince Charles. Later, Princess Anne (who attended Benenden in Kent) sent her own children Zara and Peter to their grandfather’s school. Princess Anne, now the Princess Royal, also served as a school governor at Gordonstoun for a while.

Queen Camilla attended a local co-ed school near the family home in Plumpton, Sussex before heading on to the pioneering all-girls’ Queen’s Gate School in South Kensington at the age of 10. She is fondly remembered there today and has returned to visit over the years. At 16, the then Camilla Shand headed off to finishing school in Switzerland and then Paris, where she studied French literature and language for six months before coming back to London to start work.

Royal education – the UK Royal Family's school days
Both Princes William and Harry attended Eton for their senior years

Classic independent pathways

As a parent, Charles made a very different choice for his sons. Princes William and Harry both experienced a traditional independent school education, starting off at Wetherby School, a pre-prep in Bayswater within easy reach of Kensington Palace. From there, they moved on to Ludgrove Prep, a boys’ boarding school in Wokingham, Berkshire. At 13, the future Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex headed off to Eton for their senior-school years. 

Catherine, Princess of Wales started nursery in the Jordanian capital Amman, where her father was working for British Airways. When the family returned to Berkshire, the young Catherine Middleton joined St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne – boarding at the prep in her later years. After studying at Downe House, she finished her secondary education as a boarder at Marlborough College in Wiltshire.

Royal education – the UK Royal Family's school days
The Prince and Princess of Wales have moved all three children into the same prep school, close to their home in Windsor

Modern royal school days

The next generation of the Royal Family are taking a modern route through independent schools. Prince George began his education at Westacre Montessori School Nursery, located near Anmer Hall in Norfolk, the Prince and Princess of Wales’ home at the time. Both Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis began their school days at Willcocks Nursery School in Kensington. Then the two eldest children moved on to Thomas’s School in Battersea – they were known there as George and Charlotte Cambridge.

More recently, the Prince and Princess of Wales have relocated to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor Home Park. This enabled them to settle on one prep school – Lambrook – for all three of their children. While future education decisions are some way off, all three children enjoy happy and carefree school days in the Berkshire countryside close to home,

Meanwhile, the Prince and Princess of Wales have what every modern parent dreams of – the convenience of drop-offs and pick-ups from just one place. This may be a royal education, but it is also in tune with busy modern family life.

Further reading: Queen’s Gate School, a pioneer of progress