The Duke of Edinburgh was charged with watching over the Royal Family with an iron fist when the Queen first ascended the throne and had to prioritise her sovereign duties. The 99-year-old’s impact on his entire family should therefore not be underestimated, as he strove to make sure all the royals were as dedicated to the crown as he was. While his relationship with his children is at times strained, Philip’s bond with his grandchildren is much stronger.
For instance, after Princess Diana’s tragic death, Philip immediately stepped in to support Prince William and Prince Harry as they grieved.
William has since described his grandfather as a “legend”, and is thought to have leant on the royal stalwart during periods of uncertainty such as when he was considering dropping out of St Andrews University.
Philip was able to persuade his grandson to stick it out.
The Duke of Cambridge has since shown his respect for Philip on several occasions, such as when he named Prince Louis after his grandfather’s beloved uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten — and he even gave Prince George the same middle name.
It would therefore not be surprising if William looked to his grandfather for advice when deciding on George’s schooling, especially as the seven-year-old will one day be King.
George currently attends Thomas’s Battersea day school with his younger sister Princess Charlotte, and may stay there until he turns 13.
It is not yet known where he will be educated after that, but it’s likely to be a school which provides a rounded experience if Philip has any say in the process.
During a speech to mark his installation as Chancellor of Edinburgh University a year after his wife ascended the throne, Philip laid out his own personal views on education.
He said: “For some reason it is perfectly respectable to teach history and mathematics, electronics and engineering but any attempt to develop character and the whole man tends to be viewed with suspicion.
“All the more remarkable because the great men of history have all had an exceptional strength of character.
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“Life in school should be so ordered that it is in a real sense a preparation for life in a larger community; it is out of classroom hours and away from home that many of the practical lessons of life are taught and learned.
“The schools therefore have this further duty to teach the young to live as members of the community with all that implies in learning to give and take and play their part in common life.”
He also noted that each school has its own characteristics, praising each school’s uniqueness.
Philip then practised what he preached and sent three of his four children to Gordonstoun.
This school in Scotland focused on vigorous exercise in a harsh environment to help build character, and pupils were expected to help maintain the grounds and school itself.
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Yet, as royal biographer, Ingrid Seward, noted: “It is unfortunate that when it came to his own children, he did not take that into account in sending Prince Charles to Gordonstoun for which he was clearly unsuited and where he was very unhappy.
“When it comes to school it is certainly not the case that one size fits all.”
Indeed, Charles would later dub the school ‘Colditz in kilts’ and refused to send William and Harry there — they both went on to attend Eton College instead.
Even so, the Duke of Cambridge may have listened to his grandfather’s advice when deciding upon schools for George.
Thomas’s Battersea has the motto of ‘Be Kind’, suggesting it prioritises character-building over academia.
Of course, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, will also have a say in where her eldest is educated.
But she is also thought to have a good relationship with her grandfather-in-law and may heed his advice considering his unwavering dedication to the throne over the last 68 years.
‘Prince Philip Revealed: A Man of His Century’ by Ingrid Seward was published by Simon and Schuster in 2020 and is available here.