FROM THE ARCHIVES
IN 1985, ANWAR HUSSEIN WATCHED THREE-YEAR-OLD WILLIAM ATTEND HIS FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN
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
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 exercise books, which features his drawings.