Prince Charles and THE TRUTH ABOUT THAT cherry brandy af­fair


New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - CELEB UPDATE -

Gor­don­stoun was cho­sen as Prince Charles’ se­nior school and the Duke of Ed­in­burgh drove him there on the open­ing day of his first term. Charles was left at Wind­mill Lodge, the house to which he had been al­lot­ted.

Wind­mill Lodge, a long, low stone and tim­ber build­ing with a green as­bestos roof, stands about a quar­ter of a mile from Gor­don­stoun House.

The dor­mi­to­ries were bleaker than he had yet en­coun­tered – bare wooden floor­boards, un­painted walls, naked elec­tric light bulbs hang­ing from the ceil­ing and no fur­ni­ture ex­cept the beds.

Clothes were changed and kept in the locker rooms; meals were taken in one of the din­ing rooms at Gor­don­stoun House, at a ta­ble shared with 13 other boys; for pri­vate study there were huts to be shared closer at hand.

They take turns wait­ing at the ta­ble; they weed the gar­den, they clean up the class­rooms, mak­ing their own beds and clean­ing their own shoes.

One of them is a ded­i­cated “waker” to call the rest at 6.45am.

The chore that fell to the Prince of Wales most often in his first term was emp­ty­ing the dust­bins – a joke his house­mas­ter also en­joyed play­ing on Prince Alexander of Yu­goslavia. Prince Charles found it the most ap­pro­pri­ate me­nial task to bring him down to earth with a crash!

As soon as they were awake, the boys pa­raded in the open air, dressed only in shorts and run­ning shoes, for phys­i­cal drills or a quick trot round the grounds, fol­lowed by a cold shower “to shake the sleep out of them”.

Break­fast was at eight.

Class be­gan at nine and lasted through the morn­ing, though twice a week was in­ter­rupted by another spell of phys­i­cal ex­er­cise.

In his second term, the prince qual­i­fied for in­clu­sion in one of the crews that re­placed each other in suc­ces­sion on one of the two school ketches that sailed round the north­ern coast. Charles was posted to the Pinta and was on board when the ship ar­rived in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, on Mon­day, June 17.

He and four other boys were given leave to have lunch ashore and then go to the cinema. As usual, they were ac­com­pa­nied by the prince’s pri­vate de­tec­tive Don­ald Green, who had gone to Gor­don­stoun with him and was nor­mally ac­com­mo­dated in Masters’ quar­ters.

As they walked to the Crown Ho­tel, it was soon ev­i­dent that some of the peo­ple in Stornoway had recog­nised the Gor­don­stoun boat and had come along to see if the prince was on board. By the time the de­tec­tive led them into the lounge of the Crown, there was a small crowd form­ing out­side.

Don­ald Green went off to the cinema to book seats; the boys waited in the ho­tel lounge for him to come back and join them for lunch.

Mean­while, the peo­ple out­side con­tin­ued to peer in and the prince, who hates be­ing treated as a peep show, grew em­bar­rassed and fid­gety.

He re­calls that he got “ab­so­lutely fed up” and took refuge in the next room of the ho­tel, where he could be no longer stared at from the out­side.

But the next room turned out to be a bar and he re­alised that this was a place where one was ex­pected to or­der a drink or go away. Hav­ing re­alised this, Charles was at a loss for what to do.

He was cer­tainly aware that a 14-year-old boy could not drink wine on li­censed premises without break­ing the rules of Gor­don­stoun and the laws of the land. But he was not in a men­tal state to con­sider any of this at the mo­ment. He

stepped up to the bar and, re­call­ing the drink that he had some­times been given when out shoot­ing at San­dring­ham, or­dered cherry brandy.

He paid his half-crown to the bar­maid, then walked into what he can still only think of as “that dread­ful woman” – a free­lance jour­nal­ist.

Other Gor­don­stoun boys on these sea trips were in the habit of tak­ing a glass of some­thing or other when they came ashore, and the prac­tice was winked at. But the jour­nal­ist had recog­nised this par­tic­u­lar boy and by next day, the story had gone right round the world.

The up­roar came as a se­quel to sev­eral pub­lic crit­i­cisms of the prince over the pre­vi­ous year. In Septem­ber, it had be­come known that he had shot his first stag on the hills above Bal­moral, and the League Against Cruel Sports had passed a mo­tion con­demn­ing this.

In March, Charles had been at­tacked by a min­is­ter of the Free Church of Scot­land for “in­vad­ing the Lord’s Day” with a party of other Gor­don­stoun boys, prac­tis­ing ski­ing in the Cairn­gorms on a Sunday.

In May, a Bill for the pro­tec­tion of deer had come be­fore the House of Com­mons and in Stand­ing Com­mit­tee one Mem­ber re­ferred to “the Duke of Ed­in­burgh, who goes in for this loath­some kind of sport and even brings his child up to do it”.

To make mat­ters worse, the news­pa­per re­ports of the Stornoway in­ci­dent were fol­lowed by an of­fi­cial de­nial – based on a mis­un­der­stood tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with Prince Charles’ de­tec­tive.

The de­nial was fol­lowed by con­fir­ma­tion of the news story, then the con­fir­ma­tion was fol­lowed by a with­drawal of the de­nial. It was a se­ries of mishaps that served to keep the episode alive longer than it needed to be.

It would no doubt have been given even more at­ten­tion but for the fact of the Pro­fumo af­fair, after sim­mer­ing since March, had now come to the boil. Scan­dal will still sell more news­pa­pers than roy­alty.

There was, of course, still the ques­tion of what pun­ish­ment should fol­low the crime. The Times com­mented that the head­mas­ter of Gor­don­stoun would in­ves­ti­gate and, if nec­es­sary, award pun­ish­ment; and that a cane was kept for that pur­pose.

On his re­turn to school, the prince climbed the broad wooden stair­case that leads to the head­mas­ter’s study.

On Mon­day, June 24, it was stated that “the in­ci­dent was closed”. In fact, the prince was not beaten, though that was the atone­ment he would have much pre­ferred.

In­stead his Ju­nior Train­ing Plan was re­voked and he was re­duced to the ranks. Though he re­signedly set him­self to win back his place and suc­ceeded by the end of the term.

It had been a very triv­ial storm in a teacup, but it made a sig­nif­i­cant im­pres­sion on the Prince of Wales. The Queen is able to smile at all the hub­bub and thinks that it in the end it did her son good.

Prince Charles learnt

“the hard way” some­thing of the re­straints that his po­si­tion must al­ways place on even his most ca­sual be­hav­iour.

The prince him­self tries to laugh at it, but still finds it dif­fi­cult to do.

After the storm had blown up, and be­fore Charles had left Stornoway, some lo­cal wag come down to the quay and, point­ing to the name Pinta on the ketch, shouted across: “She’ll be­long to the Milk Mar­ket­ing Board, no doubt?”

It was years be­fore the prince could see any­thing funny in this.

Above: In 1967, the Queen was in Scot­land to col­lect her el­dest son on his last day. Right: Sen­si­tive Charles did not en­joy the strict school.

Above: Prince Philip and Charles were shown around the grounds by Cap­tain Iain Ten­nant. Below: A dor­mi­tory and class­room at the school.

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