British Royal Family

Inside Prince Charles' boarding school days

The Prince of Wales struggled to find his footing during his school years but he finally found his calling in caring for the environment.

By Bella Brennan

This month, Prince Charles will celebrate his 70th birthday so what better time to look back at his road to success.

As the longest-serving heir apparent in British history, Prince Charles has packed a lot into his seven decades.

From his dutiful service to his mother, The Queen, and the Commonwealth, his game-changing philanthropy, particularly in the environmental space, and his keen interest in sustainable and organic farming, Charles was years ahead of the curve on so many important issues, particularly climate change.

"I don't really see any value in saying, 'I told you so,'" the father-of-two recently revealed to Vanity Fair.

"As a teenager, I remember feeling deeply about this appallingly excessive demolition job being done on every aspect of life. In putting my head above the parapet on all these issues, and trying to remind people of their long-term, timeless relevance to our human experience — never mind trying to do something about them — I found myself in conflict with the conventional outlook which, as I discovered, is not exactly the most pleasant situation to find yourself," the deep thinker, who is also an advocate for architectural preservation and alternative medicine, explained.

Adding: "One of [my] duties has been to find solutions to the vast challenges we face over accelerating climate change... However, it seems to take forever to alert people to the scale of the challenge. Over forty years ago I remember making a speech about the problems of plastic and other waste, but at that stage nobody was really interested and I was considered old-fashioned, out of touch and 'anti-science' for warning of such things."

So, just how did clever Charles know these problems were on the horizon?

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Prince Charles gets the royal send off on his first day at Cheam in 1957.
Prince Charles gets the royal send off on his first day at Cheam in 1957.

Well, it all started with his studious streak at school and his impeccable education of course.

As the heir to the throne, Prince Charles' education followed the traditional royal path.

In 1975, he commenced at the Hill House School in West London before starting at his dad's stomping ground of Cheam Preparatory in Berkshire, where he was the school captain.

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Charles was the school captain at Cheam and Gordonstoun.
Charles was the school captain at Cheam and Gordonstoun.

During highschool, Charles went on to board at his father's alma mater Gordonstoun in Scotland and studied maths, English language, English literature, Latin, French and history.

In 1967 he sat his A Levels and scored a B in history, a C in French, and, quite fittingly, a distinction in history.

Sadly Charles was bullied relentlessly and loathed Gordonstoun, calling it "absolute hell."

"I hardly get any sleep in the House because I snore and I get hit on the head all the time. The people in my dormitory are foul. Goodness, they are horrid," he once revealed in a heartbreaking letter.

Despite his trying times at Gordonstoun, Charles was elected head boy before he graduated from the school in 1967.

In 1966, for two school terms when he was 17, Charles also studied abroad in Australia as an exchange student at Timbertop, a remote campus of Geelong Grammar.

It's little wonder his youngest son, Prince Harry, inherited his father's same love for our sunny shores.

The lonely heir: "I hardly get any sleep in the House because I snore and I get hit on the head all the time." *(All images: Getty Images)*
The lonely heir: "I hardly get any sleep in the House because I snore and I get hit on the head all the time." (All images: Getty Images)

He attended university at Cambridge and University College of Wales, where he studied archaeology and anthropology.

The young Prince was the first ever heir apparent to receive a university degree, scoring a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge. In 1971, he joined the British Armed Forces.

Looking back on his schooling, Charles has mused: "I didn't enjoy school as much as I might have, but that was only because I'm happier at home than anywhere else."

It's good to know even princes can struggle at school and for Charles, with the blessing of time he's realised just how much his stint at the tough-as-nails school helped shape who he is today.

"It was only tough in the sense that it demanded more of you as an individual than most other schools did — mentally or physically. I am lucky in that I believe it taught me a great deal about myself and my own abilities and disabilities. It taught me to accept challenges and take the initiative. Why else do you think I am brave enough to stand up before your Lordships now," he said during an address at the House of Lords in 1975.

Want more on Prince Charles' 70th birthday? Check out our full coverage here!

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