In Pictures: Royals on their first day at school

By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

The first day at school is a big milestone for any child, let alone a royal youngster arriving in front of the cameras.

Prince George looked smart but nervous in 2017 when he started at Thomas’s Battersea, where Princess Charlotte will begin her full-time education on Thursday.

The Duchess of Cambridge, then pregnant with Prince Louis, missed George’s big day because she was too ill, and was at home suffering from severe morning sickness.

George holding hands with William and Helen Haslem (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)

Four-year-old George held the Duke of Cambridge’s hand as he was met by the head of the lower school Helen Haslem.

William later said his son’s first day went well and joked that he was pleased another parent had problems with their child rather than him.

The week after George started, a woman was arrested on suspicion of trying to break into the private school.

The 40-year-old was later given a caution for causing a nuisance on school property.

Helen Haslem greets George (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)

A few weeks in and William told a fellow parent on a visit to Milton Keynes: “I just dropped George off and he didn’t want to go.”

But future king George, who is going into Year 2, is now said to be happy and settled.

He played a sheep in his first nativity play, and has reportedly been given the nickname PG by his friends.

Kate spoke about doing the daily school run soon after George started.

In a speech at a Place2Be forum on how schools can tackle mental health problems, she said: “As a mother, just getting used to leaving my own child at the school gates, it is clear to me that it takes a whole community to help raise a child.”

George and Charlotte were both pictured on their first day at nursery, with keen photographer Kate capturing the moments.

George went to Westacre Montessori School near the Cambridges’ Norfolk home, Anmer Hall.

George starting nursery school (Duchess of Cambridge/Kensington Palace/PA)

He was shown near a large, colourful mural, wearing a winter coat with a small rucksack on his back.

Kate also photographed two-year-old Charlotte when she started at Willcocks Nursery School, near Kensington Palace, in January 2018.

The princess was seen sitting on steps in the grounds of the London palace and also standing as she held on to a rail.

Charlotte before she left for her first day at Willcocks Nursery School (Duchess of Cambridge/Kensington Palace/PA)

Dressed in a red coat and matching Mary Jane shoes with a bow in her hair, the youngster was ready for winter in a scarf and for her day with a rucksack on her back.

William’s first experience of learning away from home was at Mrs Mynor’s Nursery School in west London which he joined aged three.

From the age of four, he went to Wetherby School, also in west London.

William with his mother the Princess of Wales on his first day at Wetherby School (PA)

He arrived on his first day in 1987 in a smart grey school cap, double-breasted coat, grey shirt and red tie, and waved to onlookers, while accompanied by his mother the Princess of Wales.

When his younger brother Prince Harry started at Wetherby in 1989, William was there to guide him – just like George with Charlotte.

Five-year-old Harry was pictured gazing up at seven-year-old William as they posed on the steps in their matching uniform of caps, blazers, shorts and burgundy t-bar shoes.

Five-year-old Harry with brother William on his first day at Wetherby School (Ron Bell/PA)

William then spent five years at Ludgrove School in Berkshire.

The royal youngster became a boarder there in 1990 when he was eight, and shook hands as he was greeted by his headmasters at the photocall marking his arrival.

William is welcomed to Ludgrove Prep School in 1990 (Martin Keene/PA)

It was while he was at Ludgrove that was rushed to hospital suffering from a depressed fracture after being hit on the side of the head with a golf club by a friend in 1991.

He needed surgery for a fractured skull, received 24 stitches and now affectionately calls the resulting mark his “Harry Potter scar”.

William is welcomed to Ludgrove Prep School (Martin Keene/PA)

William went on to board at Eton College, as did Harry, for five years.

His first day began with a photocall with the separated Prince and Princess of Wales joining him in a show of solidarity, with Harry also taking part.

The Prince and Princess of Wales with William, Harry and house master Andrew Gailey on William’s first day at Eton (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Thirteen-year-old William smiled broadly as he was greeted by scores of photographers.

A three-tier scaffolding stage was erected opposite Manor House where William was to live as a boarder, to allow the press a one-off view of the new Etonian.

The media captures William’s first day at Eton (Rebecca Naden/PA)

By then William had a reputation for being shy, and would hide behind his fringe when greeted by the cameras.

But he posed for pictures in his traditional black Eton tailcoat, waistcoat and white shirt when his lessons got under way.

Like the others boys, he had a private room where a maid would make his bed, tidy up and take care of his laundry.

William on his way to his first lessons at Eton in 1995 (John Stillwell/PA)

The school was to later act as a sanctuary for William when his parents were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, and provided stability in the difficult years that followed his mother’s death.

The Prince of Wales started as a day boy at Hill House School in Knightsbridge in 1956.

The following year, at the age of eight, he went as a boarder to Cheam School at Headley, near Newbury, Berkshire.

Prince Charles, with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh meeting his headmaster on his first day at Cheam School (PA)

He had a difficult time at school as a teenager.

He was sent to Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland, following in the footsteps of the Duke of Edinburgh, but was picked on and described his days there as “a prison sentence”.

Charles did admit that the school instilled him with self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.

Charles, with Philip and Captain Iain Tennant, chairman of the Gordonstoun Board of Governors in 1962 (PA)

He spent part of the school year in 1966 as an exchange student at Geelong Church of England Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia – the first member of the British royal family to attend an overseas Commonwealth school.

Gordonstoun is also where Zara and Peter Phillips, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex were taught.

The Queen was educated at home with her sister Princess Margaret.

Princess Elizabeth (right) and Princess Margaret after they broadcast on Children’s Hour from Buckingham Palace during the Second World War (PA)

After her father George VI succeeded to the throne in 1936 and she became the heir, she started to study constitutional history and law.

She received tuition from her father, as well as sessions with Henry Marten, the vice-provost of Eton.

She was also instructed in religion by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

She studied art and music, and is fluent in French after learning the language from a number of French and Belgian governesses.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s prep school was St Andrew’s in Pangbourne, Berkshire, where she returned for a visit in 2012 shortly before the announcement that she was pregnant.

Kate plays hockey during a visit to St Andrew’s School (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

She joined the public school in 1986 when her family returned to the UK after spending two and a half years in Jordan where she attended a nursery school.

She stayed until she was 13 and was predominantly a day girl but in her later years also boarded for part of the week.

As a 14-year-old, Kate withdrew from independent girls’ school Downe House in Cold Ash, Berkshire, after just two terms when she was reportedly bullied.

She started afresh at Marlborough College, a co-educational boarding school in Wiltshire, where she went on to blossom, captaining the hockey team and doing well in her exams.

The duchess, patron of school-based counselling charity Place2Be, has attended child mental health conferences to learn about issues such as the transition years between primary and secondary education, and has taken part in an anti-bullying workshop organised by Scotland’s anti-bullying service RespectMe during a visit to Dundee.