Gordonstoun: The school that helped form King Charles III


At a remote boarding school in Scotland, King Charles III spent his formative years developing a passion for the arts and the environment, and according to a letter home cited by a biographer, He was dealing with bullies and wished he could go home.

Charles, the new monarch of England, was 13 years old when in May 1962 he began attending Gordonstoun School, a private school on the north coast of Scotland, where his late father Prince Philip also attended attend school and want his son to go to school.

“For everyone at Gordonstoun, it is a pride to be the first school to produce an heir to the British throne,” Lisa Kerr, the current principal of Gordonstoun, told Reuters.

“It was more powerful for us to know that many of the attributes that Prince Charles took on as monarch were developed at Gordonstoun here.”

Previous generations of children of the British Royal Family, including Charles’ late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, were educated by home tutors.

Charles finds aspects of life difficult at a school with extreme activities such as an early morning jog followed by a cold shower.

Novelist William Boyd, whose time at the school coincided with Charles’s, said the monarch was disgusted with his time there. In a biography in which the King now blesses him, Jonathan Dimbleby described the royal’s time there as a “time in captivity”.

“As an adult, the Prince of Wales will insist that his decision to send him to Gordonstoun, which he considers a prison sentence, in fact beneficial, instills in him a sense of self-discipline of responsibility. mission he might have ‘drifted,’ Dimbleby writes in “The Prince of Wales: A Biography”.

According to Dimbleby, Charles once wrote home: “The people at my dorm stink. They throw slippers all night or beat me with pillows… I still wish I could go home.”

Charles’ son Harry also suggested it had a negative effect on Charles, speaking during a parenting discussion about the “pain and suffering” his father had to endure.

“I never saw it, I never knew about it, and then all of a sudden I started putting it all together and going OK, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know a little bit about his life, I also know that it has something to do with his parents, which means he treated me the way he treated me. trial,” said Harry in a 2021 podcast interview.

However, it was Charles who suggested that his schooling was not as bad as it is sometimes portrayed, praising what it had taught him.

He told House of Lords in 1975: “I am always amazed at the amount of people talking about Gordonstoun and the careless use of archaic clichés used to describe it.

“It’s just difficult in that it demands more of you as an individual than most other schools – both mentally and physically. I’m lucky, I believe it taught me a lot. about myself and my own abilities and disabilities. It taught me to accept challenges and be proactive.”


When asked if Charles was happy, principal Kerr said: “I think everyone’s school day has its ups and downs and perhaps unsurprisingly those are more interesting from a traditional perspective. pine.

“But interestingly, Prince Charles himself said that he was always amazed at the amount of people talking about Gordonstoun … in many speeches, he talked about the really positive impact his time here has had. had for his life.”

Describing him as a “stupid young man” who went on to study at Cambridge University, Kerr said Charles, who has been visiting the school since leaving school in 1967, will mingle with people from many backgrounds. different scenes.

She said he was very interested in music and drama, participating in a number of school productions.

At the time, Gordonstoun was an all-boys school, and girls from a nearby high school joined their group. One of those involved recounted the thrill of standing on stage with the heir to the throne.

“Just being involved in the production of Gordonstoun was always exciting… And then when we found out that Prince Charles was also going to be involved… that made it even more exciting. “, said retired gym teacher Alison Stockley.

“We’re pretty used to him being here. He’s seen in the shops. He’s involved in other things in the community… We know he’s good at music.”

Stockley has acted with Charles in shows including “The Pirates of Penzance”, in which Charles plays the Pirate King.

“He’s done it very well,” she said. “(He’s) just one of the boys… He’s as involved as all of us.”

Since its founding in 1934 by German educator Kurt Hahn, students Gordonstoun have been involved in the local community and Charles is a member of the coast guard, which he guards along the coast. Moray.

The new King of England is not the only famous alumnus of the school. The late actor Sean Connery and the late singer David Bowie sent their sons to Gordonstoun.

(Written by Michael Holden; Edited by Frances Kerry)

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