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Back to school with the Duke of Edinburgh

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is known around the world for his matter-of-fact and down-to-earth manner. He is blunt and direct and has a brilliant scientific mind. He is interested in almost every subject one can think of and has genuine talent as a painter. He served with distinction during the Second World War and has supported Her Majesty The Queen for 70 years.

Education for Prince Philip began in France, after the Greek Royal Family to which he belonged were forced from their kingdom. He attended an international school called ‘The Elms’, which was run by an American couple. He was not as wealthy as his contemporaries, despite his royal blood.

In 1928, the Duke moved to England and went to Cheam, an old upper-class British prep school.

In 1934, he was sent to Salem School in Germany, which was owned by his brother-in-law. This meant that his relatively poor parents did not have to pay fees. The school aimed to turn out well-rounded characters, and it focused on leadership and exercise. Unfortunately, Hitler had recently come to power in Germany and his National Socialist German Workers’ Party began imposing its will on the school. It made compulsory the Nazi salute (as a foreigner, Philip was exempted from this order). To the playful and intelligent Philip, this gesture was laughable, and he found its fascist fanaticism ridiculous.

One of the teachers at the school, Dr Kurt Hahn, was Jewish and decided to set up a school in Scotland to escape the Nazis. Gordonstoun was an austere and pioneering school for boys, and Prince Philip soon moved there. He was well suited to the school’s environment of physical toughness and outdoor spirit and rose to the position of School Guardian (Hahn’s equivalent of Head Boy).

The Duke joined the Sea Scouts and became a member of the Coast Guard. He was also captain of the cricket and hockey teams.

Dr Hahn’s final school report on His Royal Highness stated, “Prince Philip is a born leader, but it will need the exacting demands of a great service to do justice to himself. His best is outstanding, his second best is not good enough; Prince Philip will make his mark in any profession where he will have to prove himself in a full trial of strength.”

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