Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Britain's Prince Charles changes schools to 'toughen up'

The Nov. 15, 1963, East Oregonian ran a special story from London for Prince Charles’ 15th birthday. It seems that the powers that be in Great Britain were a little concerned about the future king’s interests at school and decided a little “manning up” was necessary.

The heir to the British throne has one of the longest official names and set of titles you’ve ever heard: His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, knight of the Garter, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Lord of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, the Great Steward of Scotland. Charles was described in the article as “shorter than the average boy of 15,” but was growing fast at Gordonstoun, a tough Scottish secondary school. Students there learned, among other things, to sail, navigate and rough it. The story claimed “It’s no institution for effete young men.”

Turns out young Charles had been showing more interest in the arts than in “manly” pursuits. At his previous school he excelled in painting, drawing and music, and took an interest in cooking, even baking several cakes. That was when his posh education at Eton was shelved and he was shipped off to the rough-and-tumble Gordonstoun, where he became a good horseman, an excellent sailor and a fine marksman.

Fifty years later, Prince Charles is a leading patron of the arts, children’s interests, education, business, leadership and global sustainability. The Prince’s Trust was established in the mid-1970s and now is the largest multi-case charitable enterprise in the UK. In a recent interview published on Canada’s National Post website (Oct. 27, 2013), Charles said “he feared becoming King would affect his role working with charities.”

“I feel more than anything else it’s my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try to find a way of improving things if I possibly can,” he said.

Regardless of Gordonstoun’s role in Prince Charles’ development as a man, he has retained the humanity of his youth — and that can only be to the UK’s benefit.

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