Princess Anne sent her children to the boarding school King Charles ‘hated’ but they had a very different experience to the monarch

Peter Phillips was even the school's Head Boy

King Charles III and Princess Anne
(Image credit: Hannah McKay/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Princess Anne's two children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, studied at the Scottish boarding school their uncle King Charles said he ‘hated’, but the two royals had a much better time there than the monarch once did.

The royal family have many protocols and rules that seem odd to the average person. From the strict royal rule that means King Charles can confiscate his grandchildren’s toys to the bizarre rule that stops members of the Royal Family from removing their coats and, until 1958, protocol meant that heirs to the throne were educated at home by governesses and nannies. 

That all changed when King Charles III became the first heir to the throne to attend school with other pupils. He might have been excited when he stepped through the doors of his school in 1958 but the dream would soon turn into a nightmare when he enrolled at Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun

The King has been vocal over the years about how much he 'hated' his time at the institution and he famously refused to send his own children, Prince William and Prince Harry, there. But this did nothing to stop Princess Anne sending her own youngsters, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, to the school when they came of age - and thankfully they had a very different experience to their uncle Charles. 

Princess Anne, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall

(Image credit: Tom Wargacki/Wireimage/Getty Images)

Princess Anne has never been afraid to break royal tradition, her most notorious deviation being when she chose not to give her children HRH titles, and she's become known for being one of the most hardworking yet simultaneously laid back royals for her sweet approach to being a grandmother and her close relationship with Zara's husband, Mike Tindall.

But she stuck to tradition when she sent her two children to Gordonstoun. Her brother King Charles clearly didn't manage to put her off the school even when he compared it to a prisoner-of-war camp due to it's well-known reputation for corporal punishment, strict discipline, no central heating and cold showers. 

But the place had seemingly turned around when the time came for Peter and Zara to pack their bags and head up to Scotland. "I loved school, I loved sport and being with my mates all the time," OK! Magazine reports Zara said in 2018 when reflecting on her time at Gordonstoun.

“I don’t know how much work I did. You do get homesick, but I had so much fun, and Pete was very protective. All his friends were too. They kept me out of trouble.

"After Dorset, I joined him at Gordonstoun. He hung out with a group of lads who liked to have fun, but he always knew how to get away with stuff. When he was made Head Boy, I thought, ‘How did you manage that?’”

King Charles at Gordonstoun School

(Image credit: William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Just like Zara, a royal he is said to have a ‘sweet and uncomplicated’ relationship with, King Charles also suffered from homesickness, though his thoughts of leaving the school were more persistent and adamant than his niece's.

 "I did not enjoy school as much as I might have, but this was because I was happier at home than anywhere else," Charles said in 1975 according to Karen Dolby's book The Wicked Wit of the Royal Family. "I had this schoolboy dream that I was going to escape and hide in the forest in a place where no-one could find me so that I wouldn't have to go back to school.

"I hated that institution just as much as I hated leaving home. when you lead a perfectly agreeable existence, you don't want to go back to cold showers at 7am in the morning and a quick run before breakfast."

But for all the hardship he faced, it was perhaps the lessons Charles did learn that swayed Princess Anne's decision to send her own kids to the school. "Gordonstoun developed my will power and self control and helped me discipline myself," he said. "But I think that discipline, not in the sense of making you bath in cold water, but in giving shape and form and tidiness to your life."

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.