New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... -

The roy­als at school

With Prince Ge­orge start­ing school this month, we’ve hunted back through our ar­chive and re­vis­ited some of his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther’s school-day mile­stones. In 1985, we cov­ered Prince Wil­liam’s first day of nurs­ery school, a mile­stone mo­ment for the royal fam­ily, who had pre­vi­ously ed­u­cated their chil­dren pri­vately. How­ever, at the in­sis­tence of Princess Diana, Wil­liam be­came the first royal to at­tend a pub­lic kin­der­garten.

And in 1968, we looked back on Prince Charles’ time at the strict and un­for­giv­ing Gor­don­stoun School in Scot­land, a school he hated but was forced to at­tend by his fa­ther, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh. While there, he got him­self in a spot of bother when, at age 14, he was spot­ted or­der­ing al­co­hol at a bar while on a school out­ing, in what be­came the “Cherry Brandy Af­fair”. The Weekly, how­ever, of­fered “the real story” be­hind the scan­dal – and all wasn’t as it seemed.

His first day at school held no ter­rors for Prince Wil­liam. He couldn’t wait to get started. And at the end of class there was a present for Princess Diana.

Lit­tle Prince Wil­liam’s first day at school couldn’t have gone bet­ter. There were no tears, no tantrums, no cling­ing to Mummy’s skirt – just a quick pause to wave to the cam­eras be­fore march­ing down some steps into an em­pire of cygnets, lit­tle swans and big swans. Wil­liam him­self proudly took the ti­tle of Cygnet.

Never be­fore has a child so close to the Bri­tish throne been sent to a pri­vate nurs­ery school. It is clear that it was Princess Diana who broke tra­di­tion and made this cru­cial choice as to where her son’s school­ing should be­gin.

There had been much spec­u­la­tion about the es­tab­lish­ment to be cho­sen and, un­der­stand­ably, Mrs

Jane Mynors, who runs the $350-a-term nurs­ery school in Chep­stow, Vil­las, Not­ting

Hill Gate, is “sur­prised and

de­lighted” that hers was the fi­nal choice. Neigh­bours had not been so sur­prised. They had guessed it would be this one when they no­ticed plain-clothed po­lice check­ing ad­join­ing rooftops a cou­ple of weeks be­fore.

There are eight teach­ers at Chep­stow Vil­las and three classes of 12. The new boy from Kens­ing­ton Palace is five min­utes’ drive away.

Both Charles and Diana ac­com­pa­nied Wil­liam. De­spite her own ex­pe­ri­ence as nurs­ery school helper be­fore her marriage, Princess Diana was clearly ner­vous as she bade farewell to her el­dest son.

“Please take good care of him,” she whis­pered to

Mrs Mynors.

Young Wills, how­ever, was burst­ing with ea­ger­ness. He prac­ti­cally de­serted his par­ents as they shook hands with Mrs Mynors and had eyes only for the nar­row steps lead­ing down to the class­room where “Wil­liam” was al­ready writ­ten be­side his apron peg.

The as­sem­bled world press tried to catch the lit­tle prince’s at­ten­tion. “Wil­liam, Wil­liam,” they shouted as he steadily made his way to those steps. It was ob­vi­ous there were more im­por­tant things on his mind.

Charles and Diana laugh­ingly fol­lowed. They stayed only long enough to see their son set­tled and to hand over a Post­man

Pat vac­uum flask filled with or­ange juice. Then they were off, leav­ing Wills in a new world where time is spent cut­ting out, model mak­ing, paint­ing and, weather per­mit­ting, play in a leafy gar­den with a log cabin and a slide.

The heir to the throne was in­tro­duced to his class­mates as just “Wil­liam” and is to be treated as one of the boys by his lit­tle chums. But while the prince is in class, the door to the street is locked by a po­lice min­der who will ac­com­pany Wills every day of his school life.

Ninety min­utes later, Wil­liam emerged. In one hand, he proudly clutched a present for Mama, painstak­ingly toiled over in his pa­per-cut­ting class

– a lit­tle pa­per mouse!

Above: In­side one of the class­rooms at Mrs Mynor’s Nurs­ery School. Left: Prince Wil­liam gave the pub­lic a quick wave good­bye be­fore mak­ing his way down­stairs to class. The play­ground with its log cabin and slide. Left: One of the five-year- old’s...

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