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Gordonstoun is a tough public school in Moray, Scotland, attended by Prince Philip when he was a boy, when he was one of the first pupils to attend. It had a strict regime, known for corporal punishment, strict discipline and cold showers. Philip insisted that Charles should also attend, but his son despised the school, calling it “Colditz in kilts”, alluding to the prisoner-of-war camp Colditz Castle.
Charles was reportedly bullied mercilessly by the other boys at the school and is even said to have been caged naked in a basket and left under a cold shower once.
Even in the Seventies there was no central heating and windows were reportedly left open at night.
However, he was by no means the last royal to attend the school, with Andrew and Edward also attending, with three of the royals ‒ Philip, Charles and Edward ‒ all appointed Guardian, the equivalent of Head Boy.
At the time, the school was only for boys so Princess Anne did not attend, but she did send her two children Zara and Peter there and served on the school’s board of governors for a time.
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Zara Tindall loved the school Prince Charles famously hated
Prince Philip at Gordonstoun in 1935
Unlike Charles, Zara, 39, loved her time at the school, where she got to indulge her love of sport.
She also admitted that her older brother Peter was very “protective” of her during their time at boarding school.
She said in 2018: “I loved school, I loved sport and being with my mates all the time.
“I don’t know how much work I did. You do get homesick, but I had so much fun, and Pete was very protective.
Peter Philips and Zara Phillips at Gordonstoun in 1990
“All his friends were too. They kept me out of trouble. After Dorset, I joined him at Gordonstoun.
“He hung out with a group of lads who liked to have fun, but he always knew how to get away with stuff.
“When he was made Head Boy, I thought, ‘How did you manage that?’”
Lady Helen Taylor, the daughter of the Queen’s cousin Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, also attended Gordonstoun and enjoyed it.
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Prince Charles at Gordonstoun in 1962
Gordonstoun School in 1962
This was despite enduring the cruel nickname of “Melons” in a reference to her weight while she was there.
Helen, who went on to become an ambassador for Calvin Klein, Bulgari and Armai, said at the launch of Emporio Armani in 2004, that she was “slightly chubby” at school.
She said: “It was the boys at Gordonstoun who called me that.
“I think there are only about two people who call me that now. The original context has gone.”
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Despite the teasing nickname and the harsh regime, Helen insisted she enjoyed it, adding that it was a healthy lifestyle.
Helen, 56, was one of the first girls to be admitted to the previously all-boys school.
She said: “Yes, we did have cold showers, the heating never worked and we had to go on morning runs before school, but it was a very healthy lifestyle.
“That’s where my love affair with Scotland began. It’s a really special place.”
Lady Helen Taylor and Tim Taylor
That said, she said in an interview with The Lady magazine in 2018 that teachers at the school doubted her abilities.
She recalled being told she would be most suited to “stacking shelves at Waitrose”.
The Queen’s cousin once removed said: “I never had an education. At Gordonstoun I just met boys.”