Queen’s stark view of Prince Charles laid bare by historian as he felt ‘dread’

Prince Charles is a 'more polarising figure' says Tominey

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Prince Charles, 73, is currently representing Queen Elizabeth II, 95, on a four-day tour of the island of Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 74, arrived in Waterford on Thursday for their latest royal engagement. The couple will take in the stunning sights of the Republic of Ireland’s oldest city following their two-day stay in Northern Ireland.

The pair will end their stay in the Republic of Ireland – their sixth official joint visit to the country – with a trip to County Tipperary on Friday.

Charles and Camilla will meet local people during the final days of their tour, including workers who have been on the frontline in the pandemic.

The Prince of Wales – a passionate environmentalist – will also chat to farmers and other community figures about sustainable food and drink production.

The future King’s trip is part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which commemorates her historic 70-year reign.

Charles, who has been heir apparent since Her Majesty acceded to the throne in 1952, felt “dread” as a child, according to an unearthed letter written by his mother.

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The Queen’s stark admission was cited by US historian Sally Bedell Smith in her 2017 biography, ‘Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life: In the Shadow of the Throne’.

The expert, who is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, discussed Charles’ move from Hill House School in London to Cheam School in Hampshire, when he was eight years old.

She wrote: “Charles’s loneliness and unhappiness at Cheam were painfully obvious to his family.

“In a letter to Prime Minister Anthony Eden at the beginning of 1958, the Queen wrote, ‘Charles is just beginning to dread the return to school next week—so much worse for the second term’.”

After the Prince of Wales completed five years at Cheam, there were discussions in the Royal Family about where he should continue his education.

The Queen Mother was said to have made the case for him attending Eton College near Windsor Castle.

Meanwhile, Prince Philip wanted his young son to attend Gordonstoun in northeastern Scotland.

The Duke of Edinburgh was himself a pupil of the independent secondary school from 1934 to 1939 before leaving to begin his career in the Royal Navy.

The institution was renowned for its tough, character-building programme of education, which included gruelling outdoor fitness regimes.

Philip is said to have got his way after it was eventually decided that Charles would attend Gordonstoun.

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Ms Bedell Smith described how the Duke flew his son up to Scotland personally and then drove him across to the school.

She wrote: “The Queen did not accompany her husband in May 1962, when he delivered Charles to Gordonstoun.

“A certified pilot, Philip flew Charles to a Royal Air Force base in Scotland and drove him the rest of the way.

“With a Seventeenth Century grey stone building at its centre, the campus had an undistinguished collection of seven prefabricated wooden residences that had previously been used as RAF barracks.

“The prince was assigned to Windmill Lodge with 13 other boys, the start of an ordeal that he viewed as nothing less than a ‘prison sentence’.”

The expert claimed that Charles did not adapt to life at the school as well as his father, who was more athletic and was a captain of the cricket and hockey teams.

She wrote: “Charles had neither his father’s resilient temperament nor his relative anonymity, and he lacked the physical prowess to command respect.”

‘Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life: In the Shadow of the Throne’ was written by Sally Bedell Smith and published by Random House in 2017. It is available here.

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