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Queen Mother pleas for Prince Charles not to be sent to Gordonstoun

Queen Elizabeth II wrote a letter to her daughter
pleading her not to send Prince Charles
to Gordonstoun. 

Way back when he was in his teens, Prince Charles opined that it would do him no good to stay at Gordonstoun in Scotland. Gordonstoun has the distinction of being Britain’s toughest public school. His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had the same opinion and voiced out her concern to the Queen, saying  that the young prince would be “terribly cut off and lonely in the far north” and she’d rather have him attend “staunchly protestant” Eton. However, Prince Philip shrugged off his mother-in-law’s protestation. He wanted his eldest son and the heir to the throne to get the same kind of education he got, no matter how tough it may be.

--> But the Queen Mother’s was right after Prince Charles confirmed the harshness of Gordonstoun. He calls it a “prison sentence” to have been sent there, describing the place as “Colditz with kilts.”

Prince Philip knew nothing about raising his son, After all, he never saw his own child’s upbringing. He was raised by a retinue of attendants all his life and was given the care and attention accorded to the heir to the throne. Even the young man’s personality was different from his father’s. Prince Philip had no idea that his son was actually sensitive and gentle-natured.

Ross Benson, one of Charles’ contemporary would recall that the prince was bullied and that “he was crushingly lonely for most of his time there. The wonder is that he survived with his sanity intact.”
And even the presence of his cousin, the future Lord Brabourne and Prince Welf of Hanover, who acted as the young boy’s wingmen, did little to ease his loneliness.

On a May 23, 1961 letter to her daughter, the Queen Mother wrote: “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.

“However good Gordonstoun is, it is miles and miles away and he might be as well at school abroad.

“All your friends’ sons are at Eton and it is so important to be able to grow up with people you will be with later in life.

“And so nice and so important when boys are growing up that you and Philip can see him during school days and keep in touch with what is happening. He would be terribly cut off and lonely in the far north."

The 60-year-old grandmother also raised the issue of Gordonstoun’s inter-denomination codes, reasoning that letting the prince attend Eton “would solve many difficulties, one being religion.” 

She added: “It’s always a tricky one with the heir to the throne and one would not be involved in any controversies in a staunchly Protestant place like Eton Chapel.”

In conclusion, the Queen Mother hoped that her daughter won’t mind her intervention and that all she has was her concerns for Prince Charles.

However, the Queen Mother’s cause would prove too futile after Prince Philip defended his choice for Charles, saying that Eton’s proximity to London and Windsor would make him easily susceptible to media harassment. He also thought that Charley would love it there because he loves Scotland. But that would never be. He abhorred the Spartan regime and in letter back home, he wrote “The people in my dormitory are foul. Goodness, they are horrid. I don’t know how anybody could be so foul.”

It was customary among the older boys to terrorized younger, weaker colleagues. In fact, they would  beat them up and extort food and money, ransacking letters and personal belongings. One contemporary even revealed that Charles tyrannized “maliciously, cruelly and without respite.”


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