Beth Hale examines William and Kate’s own classroom years as they choose co-ed school for children
By the time Prince William was the age of his oldest son, he had already completed his first year of boarding school.
Die – Ludgrove, in Wokingham, Berkshire – was one of the educational establishments the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited when looking for a new school for Prince George, who was celebrating his ninth birthday just a few weeks ago.
But in the end – tellingly – it was not their final choice.
Instead, they alighted at the £21,000-a-year Lambrook School, near Ascot, just 15 minutes’ drive from four-bedroom Adelaide Cottage, which will be their new home on Queen’s Home Park estate in Windsor from next week. .
The decision is not without controversy. As Richard Kay wrote in yesterday’s Mail, taking possession of a third house in the time of an exploding cost of living crisis could seem awkwardly insensitive.
However, it says a lot about the way this modern royal couple, future king and queen, has made parents, their children’s lives, and indeed family life as a whole, the center of everything they do.
By the time Prince William (right) was the age of his oldest son, he had already completed his first year of boarding school. Although William’s school days were mostly positive, going to boarding school at a young age wasn’t always easy
Unlike her husband, the Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed her own formative years away from the goldfish bowl of royal life, at her rural prep school in Pangbourne. Pictured: Kate Middleton on her last day at St Andrew’s School
Having had different experiences with school themselves, they have a clear idea of what they want for their children—Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four, and that seems to provide the opportunity to get as close as possible to with normal family life.
Three siblings start each day at the family’s joint breakfast table and then attend the same coeducational school — what a refreshing break from a royal tradition of same-sex schools and boarding schools (although that may still be on the cards).
Although William’s schooling was mostly positive, it was not always easy to attend boarding school at a young age.
He has said he still loves Tina Turner’s song The Best, which his mother would play in the car for him and his brother Harry when they returned to Ludgrove to ease the anxiety of the trip.
“You would sing and listen to music all the way to the gates of the school when they dropped you off, and then the reality kind of hit you — you really went back to school.”
Princess Diana naturally strove for a “normal life” for her sons, despite their royal status, an influence that can now be seen in their choices.
Unlike her husband, the Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed her own formative years away from the goldfish bowl of royal life, at her rural prep school in Pangbourne.
She enjoyed her time at St Andrew’s School. There she developed her passion for sports – swimming, hockey and netball – as well as drama (she played the lead role of Eliza Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady).
Proof of how much she enjoyed her time there and why she might have sought something similar for her own children can be found in words she shared with students when she visited in 2012.
“It’s such a treat to be back here,” she said. ‘I absolutely had a good time here; they were some of my happiest years. . . In fact, I liked it so much that when I had to leave, I told my mom I was coming back to become a teacher.
“When I was at school here, I discovered my love for sports. Sport has been a big part of my life and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I was given to get out and play in such beautiful open spaces.”
If there was a less fortunate aspect of Kate’s school years, it might be her two-semester term at her first high school, Downe House, an independent girls-only boarding school, also in Berkshire.
She was a day student, not a boarder, and was probably quite miserable.
The headmistress denied at the time that Kate was being bullied, although she admits that she may have felt like a fish in water because of the ‘catsy’ atmosphere. At her 2011 wedding, Beatbullying was one of the charities the couple asked guests and benefactors to donate to.
Having had several school experiences of their own, they have a clear idea of what they want for their children — Prince George (second from right), nine, Princess Charlotte (left), seven and four-year-old Prince Louis — and that seems like the possibility to get as close as possible to a normal family life
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watch the artistic gymnastics at Arena Birmingham with Princess Charlotte on day five of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
Whatever the cause of the problem, Kate left midway through the academic year and enrolled in co-educational (much like Lambrook) Marlborough College in Wiltshire, as did both of her siblings. This is where Kate thrived – as she no doubt hopes her own three children will.
It is certainly no coincidence that Lambrook is only 30 miles from the children’s grandparents, Michael and Carole Middleton, who will no doubt have been consulted.
In an interview with Giovanna Fletcher on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, Kate said, “I had a very happy childhood. It was really nice. I am very lucky, I come from a very strong family. My parents were very devoted to us – my siblings. As a parent, I really appreciate how much they sacrificed for us now.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kate would see her mother as a key attribute in charting her own offspring’s educational path.
In the same podcast, she talked about her grandmother Valerie Glassborow, who worked as a codebreaker in Bletchley Park during World War II.
She said: ‘I had a wonderful grandmother who spent a lot of time with us, playing with us, doing crafts and going to the greenhouse to garden and cook with us.
“And I try to process a lot of the experiences she gave us then into the experiences I give my children now.”
William’s educational path, on the other hand, was solid same-sex. At the age of four he was sent to Wetherby Preparatory School (all boys) in West London and then spent five years as a boarder in Ludgrove before going on to Eton College.
It was Prince Charles and Princess Diana who chose to send William and Harry to Eton rather than the royal family’s alma mater Gordonstoun, whom Prince Charles described as “Colditz in kilts.” They wanted to make sure that the brothers – once best friends – could support each other through difficult times. And they did.
While school was an outlet for Kate for all that sporting prowess, for William it was also a refuge, a place separated from the bitterness of his parents’ divorce and a place that offered stability through the difficult years that followed. death of his mother.
Times could be tough at Eton, often because of events outside the gates. He once invited nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke to attend his June 4 picnic celebrations instead of his parents.
His caretaker Dr. Andrew Gailey was an important source of support – it was in his study that William watched his mother’s amazing Panorama interview, in which she revealed that there were three people in her marriage.
Dr Gailey’s role in William’s young life earned him an invitation to the royal wedding in 2011 and the title of Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).
dr. Gailey was cited as an influencer of William’s college choice, having studied at St Andrews himself.
At Lambrook, many students attend schools like Eton, which Prince George is destined for.
In addition to co-ed, Lambrook also offers flexiboarding ranging from one night every so often to five nights a week, so this may remain an option.
But given the decisions the Duke and Duchess have made so far – moving their family to a cottage with no room for live-in staff, choosing a school not known for its royal ties, making sure all three of their children attend the same school. from September – maybe they have something else in mind.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: Claudia Joseph