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FeaturesThe Duke of Edinburgh

Remembering Philip: The Prince’s School Days

Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh
By Flickr user Steve Punter - Looking at City Hall on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wiki Commons

In remembrance of The Duke of Edinburgh, Royal Central is taking a look at his education and the time he spent learning in the United Kingdom and abroad. The Duke was first educated at The Elms, an American school in Paris run by Donald MacJannet, who described Philip as a “know it all smarty person, but always remarkably polite.

In 1930, Philip was sent to the United Kingdom to attend Cheam School, a mixed preparatory school located in Headley just southwest of London. During his time at Cheam, Philip lived with his maternal grandmother, Victoria Mountbatten, Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven at Kensington Palace, and his uncle, George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, at Lynden Manor in Bray, Berkshire.

Over the next four years, there would be significant changes in Philip’s family. His four sisters married German princes and moved to Germany, his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed in an asylum, and his father took up residence in Monte Carlo. For the remainder of his childhood, Philip had minimal contact with his mother.

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In 1933, Prince Philip was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, a school that allowed him to “save school fees” because it was owned by the family of his brother-in-law, Berthold, Margrave of Baden. With the rise of Nazism in Germany during this time, Salem’s Jewish founder, Kurt Hahn, fled persecution and founded Gordonstoun School in Scotland. At the age of 13, Philip moved to Gordonstoun after finishing two terms at Salem.

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Gordonstoun has educated three generations of the Royal Family, including Philip’s children, the Prince of Wales, the Prince of York, and the Earl of Wessex. Peter and Zara Phillips, the children of the Princess Royal, also attended the school; their mother was the only one of Philip’s children not educated at Gordonstoun, which at the time was an all-boys school.

Dr Hahn said of Philip:

“He had grown impatient of what for short may be called Royalty nonsense. After matches and theatrical performances, people often asked him for an autograph. He found this ridiculous and on one occasion signed himself ”The Earl of Baldwin”, to the bewilderment of the autograph-hunter.”

During his time at Gordonstoun in 1937, Philip’s sister Cecile, her husband Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse, her two young sons Ludwig and Alexander, her newborn infant and her mother-in-law, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich were killed in an air crash at Ostend. Only 16-years-old, Philip attended the funeral in Darmstadt. The following year, his uncle and guardian, Lord Milford Haven died of bone marrow cancer.

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After leaving Gordonstoun in early 1939, Philip completed his term as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, before relocating to Greece. He then continued naval training and was part of the Royal Navy until his wife became Queen in February 1952. At that point, he continued his role in the navy by supporting the preservation of Britain’s maritime heritage.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.