Students At Eton "Mollycoddled" (Question Inspired By The Crown)

The Crown posits that Prince Philip was quite upset at Elizabeth wanting to send Charles to Eton, insisting that he’d rather his son go to Gourdonston(sp?), which is where Philip was educated.

Obviously Philip had a soft spot in his heart for his alma mater, but he oft said that the boys at Eton are “mollycoddled.” I’m not sure what he meant by that, though (and yes, I know what “mollycoddled” means). Gourdonston had a reputation for putting the boys through the rigors physically as well as academically; did/does Eton not do the same? Are/were the teachers/boys at Eton less prone to bullying weaker students?


I’ve no idea what elite schools do to damage their pupils.

This article gives a lot of background. Gordonstoun was an austere institution in one the most remote, rainy and windswept parts of Scotland. Eton was the easier option because it is very close to Windsor.

He seems to have had such an unhappy childhood in these institutions. It does not paint a very flattering picture of the judgement and parenting skills of the Royal family. But that was probably all they knew themselves.

From what I’ve heard and read, this sort of bullying and hazing was common at British public schools. But I’m a little surprised it happened to him. You might think that people would be deferential towards him, given that they knew he will be king one day. So was the treatment in these schools the same no matter what the social standing of the students? In some ways, that’s admirable although I hope the mistreatment no longer occurs to anyone.

But I’ve also heard that some members of the British establishment looked down on the royal family as foreign interlopers. Any truth to that? If so, was it a factor in his treatment?

From what I’ve read it was more that the other pupils didn’t want to be seen as sucking up to the heir to the throne. And also that while not a puling sissy Charles wasn’t a good fit with the rough and tough Gordonstoun ethos.

More the reason to make sure he doesn’t think himself above the rest.

Tomkinson’s Schooldays

This is a tiresome, lazy cliche which I knew would be deployed near the start of this thread. Gordonstoun school is still going, and if you look at its location on the south coast of the Moray Firth on this average UK rainfall map you will see that it is in the band for the lowest average rainfall. All of Northern Ireland, Wales and England west of York get more rain. Most of England, and most of the English home counties, get more rain.

It’s also not very windy and it is surrounded by some of the most fertile arable land in the UK. It is part of the area where the barley for Strathspey whisky is grown. It may feel remote to some, but it is not remote to people in Inverness or Aberdeen.

From the article linked by filmstar-en; “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 17th-century gray stone building at its center (built in a circular design, according to legend, by Sir Robert Gordon so that no devils could fly into corners), the campus had an undistinguished collection of seven pre-fabricated wooden residences that had previously been used as R.A.F. barracks.”

That must have been an enormously arduous drive, given that the airbase and the school estate are separated by hundreds of feet. Or perhaps they flew to RAF Kinloss, which is all of 10 miles away, on dead flat roads.

Remember, the British leaders of today were raised properly (not mollycoddled) on the playing fields of Eton.

*Dear Mr. Poxham, would you kindly excuse Steven from
Games today? He has had a nasty cold over the weekend and
Still has headaches and feels a bit snotty. I don’t feel
He should be outside with the rougher type of boy, as he
Is a little delicate. Hoping you will understand, yours
Sincerely, Nellie Maynard, Mrs.

Give him a nice cold shower.*

“Sport” - Bonzo Dog Band

To be fair, Inverness and Aberdeen are pretty remote to many of us.

These schools are generally stuffed to the gills with sons of dukes, foreign princes, middle eastern generals, overseas ambassadors - they aren’t going to give special treatment to a British Prince. It’s part of the culture of these places.

Depends when you mean. 18th century, quite probably. 20th century, hardly. (That whole ‘they’re just a bunch of Germans’ thing is pretty tiresome - the last British monarch born overseas was George II in 1683).

But does that make the statement “Gordonstoun [is] in one of the most remote … parts of Scotland” any less misleading? (Hint: the answer is ‘no’).

I can see this is a sensitive subject for you, so I’ll just agree with you.

Okaaay, that’s way more patronising than the original factually inaccurate attempt by a non-Scot to explain Scotland to the outside world.

I just didn’t think** filmstar-en**'s description of the weather in Gordonstoun demanded such a huffy response from yourself.

I took it to mean that the pupils were subject to fewer buggerings per week at Eton.

And any part of Scotland is rainy to many of us.

Which isn’t relevant, since we’re only talking about one specific part of Scotland. And anyway, most people in England and most people in the USA live in places which get more rainfall than Gordonstoun.

In what way could that be described as a ‘description’? It stated as fact something that is the diametric opposite of the objective truth. It is clear filmstar-en was basing it on nothing more than negative stereotype. ‘Lazy’ was being polite.

And who made you the arbiter of acceptable huffiness, British-monarch-place-of-birth-knower?