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Prince Philip’s Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun releases the Duke’s old report cards

The Duke of Edinburgh‘s old boarding school has released his report cards which reveal ‘he was naughty, but never nasty’.

The report from the £40,000-per-year Gordonstoun in Moray was written for the Duke’s marriage to The Queen in 1947.

Headmaster Kurt Hahn’s notes also reveal a comical incident when the young prince nearly knocked over a young woman with a pram – but his apology was ‘irresistible’.

The school has educated three generations of the UK Royal Family – including Prince Philip, who joined at the age of 13. 

Gordonstoun – which featured in Netflix’s hit series ‘The Crown’ – was founded by Dr Hahn, who fled Nazi Germany and became an inspiring mentor to Philip. 

When Philip came to Gordonstoun ‘his marked trait was his undefeatable spirit, he felt deeply both joy and sadness, and the way he looked and the way he moved indicated what he felt’. 

Dr Hahn noted of the young pupil: ‘He had grown impatient of what for short may be called Royalty nonsense. After matches and theatrical performances, people often asked him for an autograph. He found this ridiculous and on one occasion signed himself ”The Earl of Baldwin”, to the bewilderment of the autograph-hunter.’ 

He also reveals Philip had ‘meticulous attention to detail’ and was ‘never content with mediocre results’. 

The Duke of Edinburgh, ex pupil of Gordonstoun, meeting his old headmaster, Dr. Kurt Hahn, at a dinner given in the doctor’s honour by The Friends of Gordonstoun in 1964

Prince Philip (left) in costume for a production of 'Macbeth' at his school, Gordonstoun in Scotland, July 1935

Prince Philip (left) in costume for a production of ‘Macbeth’ at his school, Gordonstoun in Scotland, July 1935

Jewish Dr Hahn was private secretary to Prince Max von Baden, the last Imperial Chancellor of Germany, before the pair founded Schule Schloss Salem.

Gordonstoun was established in 1934 by Dr Hahn with the ideal of developing better world citizens equipped to contribute to society.

But his report on Philip reveals that the young prince was sent to Gordonstoun after it was noticed that ‘whenever the Nazi salute was given he roared with laughter’ and ‘attracted universal attention’.

‘After he had been admonished to caution, he continued to be doubled up in uncontrollable mirth,’ it says.

‘He no longer roared, but nevertheless attracted universal attention. ”We thought it better for him and also for us if he returned to England right away,” said his sister who brought him to Gordonstoun.’ 

Philip was only the tenth pupil at Gordonstoun.

Dr Hahn was asked to write a record of Philip's school career a few weeks before his engagement to the future Queen, in 1947

Dr Hahn was asked to write a record of Philip’s school career a few weeks before his engagement to the future Queen, in 1947

When Philip came to Gordonstoun 'his marked trait was his undefeatable spirit, he felt deeply both joy and sadness, and the way he looked and the way he moved indicated what he felt' (pictured: part of Kurt Hahn’s notes based on a collection of Philip’s reports)

When Philip came to Gordonstoun ‘his marked trait was his undefeatable spirit, he felt deeply both joy and sadness, and the way he looked and the way he moved indicated what he felt’ (pictured: part of Kurt Hahn’s notes based on a collection of Philip’s reports)

'He never lost the childlike quality of becoming absorbed by whatever he tackled, almost to the point of oblivion,' the  report says

‘He never lost the childlike quality of becoming absorbed by whatever he tackled, almost to the point of oblivion,’ the  report says

Dr Hahn was asked to write a record of Philip’s school career a few weeks before his engagement to the future Queen, in 1947. 

It is this record, which covers the period 1934-9, when Philip left for the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, that the school has released.

It was granted permission by the Palace in the expectation that Philip would be celebrating his 100th birthday in June.

In his time at the school, Philip found things easy, which could lead to displays of ‘intolerance and impatience’, Dr Hahn said. ‘When he was in the middle-school, he got into a fair number of scrapes through recklessness and wildness. He was often naughty, never nasty.’ 

He also showed ‘an ease and forthrightness in dealing with… all kinds.’  

While he was cycling to seamanship at Hopeman one day he needed all his characteristic charm.

‘He was in the habit of cycling regardless of safety rules, and on one occasion he avoided a clash with a baby in a perambulator by inches, thanks to his unusual agility: he appeased the mother by an apology which was irresistible,’ noted the report.

Dr Hahn was also the driving force behind the Outward Bound Movement and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

He opened the new school in the North of Scotland where access to the Scottish Highlands and coastline provided the ideal opportunity to build character outside the classroom.

April 1962: Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (centre), talking to housemasters at Gordonstoun School in Scotland where Charles, Prince of Wales (right) was studying

April 1962: Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (centre), talking to housemasters at Gordonstoun School in Scotland where Charles, Prince of Wales (right) was studying

The Duke of Edinburgh stayed for five years.

Philip was a member of the ‘Watchers’, one of the school’s community services – and a precursor to the Gordonstoun’s Coastguard service.

He also developed his love of sailing at Gordonstoun, inspiring his life-long love of the sea. He was an excellent all-round athlete, becoming Captain of Cricket and Hockey.

In his final year he became ‘Guardian’ (Head Boy) and took part in the ‘Moray Badge’: the inspiration for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

The Moray Badge encouraged local children to experience elements of a Gordonstoun education and to achieve success in physical activities, outdoor pursuits and service to the community. 

Prince Philip gave his name to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award when it was made a national award in 1956 and it has now spread across the world to over 140 countries. 

He took great pleasure in presenting Gold awards to its proud recipients throughout his life.

Philip regularly visited the school, most recently for a private visit in 2014 to mark the school’s 80th anniversary, when he insisted on joining students in the queue for lunch, rather than taking a seat and having it brought to him.

May 1962: Charles, Prince of Wales and The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh being greeted by the headmaster of the Prince's school, Gordonstoun in Scotland

May 1962: Charles, Prince of Wales and The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh being greeted by the headmaster of the Prince’s school, Gordonstoun in Scotland

In 2019 Philip announced he was giving his name to a foundation at Gordonstoun to offer financial support to children from a wide variety of backgrounds. 

A third of students already receive financial assistance and the launch of The Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation aimed to increase this.

Lisa Kerr, Principal of Gordonstoun said: ‘Students and staff at Gordonstoun remember HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as someone who made students feel at ease in his presence and who shared their love of Gordonstoun. He had an immensely strong character, combined with a unique sense of fun, infectious optimism and strong sense of duty.

‘More than anything, he understood and was hugely supportive of Gordonstoun’s educational ethos, of not only fulfilling academic potential but also of developing life skills through experiences outside the classroom including sailing and community service. We are immensely grateful for his support over the years and his presence and support in the school’s life will be sorely missed.’

A tribute page is being set up set up in honour of Philip on the Gordonstoun website. Pupils, staff and parents, both past and present, are invited to leave a message of condolence or share a picture.

Three generations of British royalty have been educated at Gordonstoun, including the Duke of Edinburgh and princes Charles, Andrew and Edward as well as Princess Anne’s children Zara and Peter.


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