Your first day at a new school is always memorable, whether you skipped in happily or hung back tearfully. And this September brings with it that rite of passage for all three Cambridge children as they find their feet at their new school, Lambrook in Berkshire.
Headmaster Jonathan Perry confirmed, “We are delighted that Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will be joining us this coming September and very much look forward to welcoming the family, as well as all of our new pupils, to our school community.”
While £6,000 a term Lambrook is undoubtedly upper middle class with 42 acres of cricket, football and rugby pitches, a golf course and a £6m art and design building, it’s worlds away from the stiff upper lip, single sex public schools that would traditionally be favoured by the royal family. “It’s posh but not stuffy,” royal expert Jennie Bond exclusively tells OK! “Upper middle class but not aristocratic,” she adds.
The fact that Lambrook is co-educational and just fifteen minutes from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new home, Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor Estate is thought to have been a major factor in William and Kate’s decision making process.
“Being a royal is isolating enough,” Jennie explains. “This way George, Charlotte and Louis have a ready-made, in-built support network as they can all go to school together for the foreseeable future. That was incredibly important to WIlliam and Kate. They want their children’s lives to be as normal as possible.”
But seven year old Princess Charlotte and her brothers, nine year old George and four year old Louis are not Lambrook’s first royal pupils. The school was set up to educate the sons of Windsor Castle courtiers and two of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren were even schooled there.
But don’t let that fool you – it is now a buzzy, modern facility with switched on local parents and London commuters clamouring to get their children onto the waiting list. “There’s a real sense of fun and freedom among Lambrook pupils,” one parent reveals, while another says the school offers a “well rounded, happy school life.”
Lambrook’s headmaster Jonathan Perry says that “With great privilege comes great responsibility” which will have appealed to William and Kate’s style of parenting according to Jennie.
“They want George, Charlotte and Louis to be very aware of the privileged way in which they are growing up. Have a proper sense of empathy, charity and responsibility. It’s very much the Diana style of parenting. They want them to know how lucky they are and not take any of it for granted.”
Royal expert Duncan Larcombe adds, “they want them to be normal, that’s what Kate had when she was young.”
And Lambrook really do practice what they preach! If pupils wish to go on their annual school trip, they need to raise money to put towards it. Royal biographer Katie Nicholl says, “The most important thing to William and Kate is allowing George and his siblings a wonderfully grounded and supportive childhood” – values it looks like Lambrook shares.
George, Charlotte and Louis are understood to have enrolled as day pupils but the school also offers flexible, ad hoc boarding so if George fancies a sleepover with his friends or William and Kate want to host a child-free Friday night dinner party back at Adelaide Cottage the option is there.
And though the school boasts exceptional exam results, the focus is very much on variety and extra curricular activities. Bee keeping and taking care of the school’s own chickens and pigs would no doubt have appealed to William and Kate.
The Duke and Duchess have previously revealed that their children are kept busy with those types of outdoorsy activities during their summer holidays. “My children are already playing on the tractors. It’s so important to get outside and have the children understand nature,” William once said. While Kate, also 40, has shared her belief that “spending time in nature can play a pivotal role in helping children grow up.”
Other activities on offer include horse riding, croquet, cooking, debating and even scuba diving, so there’s no chance the Cambridge brood will get bored!
“It sounds like the perfect solution with a big focus on extra curricular activities and plenty of fresh air. Lambrook ticks all the boxes. I think it’s a lovely choice,” Jennie concludes.
William and Kate are thought to have looked at Lambrook half a dozen times, as well as other local options. And while Jennie doesn’t rule out a move to a more traditional public school like Eton or Marlborough in the future she says she just can’t imagine it.
“William and Kate are a completely different type of royal parent, they are 100% hands on. They want to be there for pick up and drop off, take part in the parent’s race at sports day and help with homework. We saw just how hands on Kate is when she was wrangling little Louis at the Jubilee concert!’”
Meanwhile, royal author Robert Hardman believes William – who was educated at all-boys’ Ludgrove, a stone’s throw from Lambrook, before moving onto Eton – will have learnt harsh lessons from his own school days.
“Prince Charles had a dreadful time at school and William and Harry also had it tough so William is determined that his own children don’t suffer in the same way.” And in Kate’s case, co-ed, sporty Lambrook, has a similar ethos to Marlborough, where she and her siblings Pippa and James were educated.
Royal expert Duncan Larcombe agrees that William and Kate’s choice reflects their more modern parenting style. “The three kids are being brought up the Middleton way, rather than the Windsor way,” Duncan says.
“Kate’s family is really tight-knit and their school choices so far have been quite reminiscent of the Middletons’. Carole and Michael have always given their children everything, and invested so much in their kids. With George, Charlotte and Louis, it’s a textbook upper-middle-class upbringing. William and Kate want their children to be normal as that’s what Kate had when she was young.”
Of course it’s not just a new school that is bringing the Cambridges to Windsor, their new home will also bring them closer to both sides of their family.
Jennie explains: “Part of the appeal is the fact that Carole and Michael Middleton are just forty minutes up the road and they can nip over for Sunday lunch which was something William loved to do while he was at St Andrews. William wants his children to have all those cosy normal elements in their lives that he perhaps missed out on.”
Plus of course their Great Granny, The Queen will be just down the road at Windsor Castle. And while Jennie doesn’t think William and Kate will have involved the monarch in their decision making process she thinks it’s likely that they ran the choice past her. “She’d want to know where the future King was going to school I’m sure,” she laughs.
Lambrook: The facts
- In 1860, Robert Burnside bought Lambrook House with a view to tutoring the sons and courtiers of Windsor Castle
- In 1878, Queen Victoria’s Grandchildren Prince Christina Victor and Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein were pupils. Queen Victoria used to watch them play sports matches there.
- In 1992, the school started accepting day pupils. Lambrook new educates girls and boys from ages 3 to 13 and has 620 pupils.
- The school’s motto is that they want to give pupils “feathers to fly” and it has a pool, orchard, nine hold golf course and £6m Queen’s Building for art and Design technology
- Alumni include Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde’s lover; rugby stars Max and Thom Evans and actor Alex Pettyfer
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