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The Queen and Princess Margaret were the last royals to be entirely home-schooled – here’s why

Boarding school became a royal tradition

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Sophie Hamilton
Sophie HamiltonParenting Editor
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Most of us are trying to forget those tough pandemic days of homeschooling our children, but did you know that the Queen and her late sister Princess Margaret were taught at home for their entire education?

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The monarch and her sibling were taught by their mother and governess, Marion Crawford, who they affectionately called 'Crawfie', as well as private tutors. The sisters were the last members of the royal family to be permanently educated at home.

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Neither the young Princess Elizabeth nor Princess Margaret gained any formal qualifications, yet their knowledge was vast. They learned how to read and write from their mother until they were seven before their governess and tutors took over.

The Queen later became fluent in both French and German and also took lessons in constitutional history from the Vice Provost of Eton, Henry Marten. According to, the then-princess also learned about maths, history, dancing, art and singing.

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The Queen and her sister Margaret as young girls

Professor Kate Williams, author of Young Elizabeth, has previously told Good Housekeeping: "The Queen's father had disliked school and her mother thought it was more important to have fun."

She added: "The lack of a formal education didn't harm her as she's naturally analytical and something of an autodidact (self-taught), as well as being hard-working – which we know now is just as important as raw brainpower." 

When the Queen welcomed her first child, Prince Charles, in 1948, the era of permanent royal homeschooling soon came to an end. He was first taught at home by a governess until age eight, after which the young royal followed in his father’s footsteps and attended school.

prince charles

Prince Charles when he attended Cheam school in Berkshire

The Queen and Prince Philip enrolled Charles at Hill House school in West London, however, he only attended this school for around ten months before moving to the boarding school Cheam School for five years.

The next establishment Charles attended was Gordonstoun, a public school in Scotland that has a close connection to his late father Prince Philip, as the Duke had also been a pupil there.

At Gordonstoun, the Prince took his GCE O-levels at age sixteen and passed six of them. He attended Cambridge University in 1967, reading history, archaeology, and anthropology, graduating with a 2:2 degree - the first university degree achieved by a British royal or heir to the throne.

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