The Cambridge kids’ new school – ‘respectable but not one of the fancy’

The three Cambridge children are expected to attend Lambrook School in Berkshire - Max Mumby/Indigo

The three Cambridge children are expected to attend Lambrook School in Berkshire – Max Mumby/Indigo

It’s time to prepare for school Prince George this September but luckily without a tuck box, teddy bear and crying goodbye. If whispers are to be believed, the third in line to the throne, who turned nine in July, will become a day pupil at Lambrook School in Berkshire, along with his sister, Princess Charlotte, seven, and brother, Prince Louis, four.

The school, in a white stucco house surrounded by parkland, is just a short drive from Adelaide Cottage, the Cambridge’s new residence near Windsor Castle – and according to current parents offers a modern, cozy and nurturing take on the typical prep school experience. “It’s nothing like the warm house our daughter went to in London – there’s plenty of space and no intrusiveness,” says one. “The classes are fun and there is a close, all-inclusive community. I challenge any child not to love it.”

However, the Cambridge kids may not be too excited about the move. Thomas’s Battersea, where the older two spent their early years in school, is also known for being fun and all-encompassing. At Lambrook, where the cost is currently £4,389 at reception and £6,448 from year 3, they have to go to school on Saturdays – the weekends! – and there is no ski chalet; Thomas’s has one in Austria, which they should have used if they had been allowed to stay in high school. And besides, why Lambrook instead of Ludgrove, their father’s alma mater, or St Andrew’s in Pangbourne, where their mother was a pupil?

It has undoubtedly been a painful decision for William and Catherine. Moving the kids from the London day school rat race to the rolling acres of prep school in the countryside wasn’t a good idea when any prep school, at least according to its prospectus, is idyllically situated and academically unparalleled, finding the perfect match for multiple kids is tricky.

Ludgrove is probably out of the question as only boys are needed and the Cambridges, who strive to go to school every day despite their hectic schedules, will find it much easier to have all their children in one school. St Andrew’s, 35 minutes away, is too far: after navigating the school daily from Kensington to Battersea for the past few years, the Cambridges want the next school to be as close as possible.

Lambrook, which William and Catherine have visited about six times, is just 15 minutes from their new main residence, a pink-painted four-bedroom cottage orné in Home Park, with large private gardens and once home to George VI’s groomsman Peter Townsend , whom Princess Margaret wanted to marry in the 1950s.

Adelaide Cottage, the new Cambridges residence near Windsor Castle - Royal Collection Trust

Adelaide Cottage, the new Cambridges residence near Windsor Castle – Royal Collection Trust

However, there are even closer preparatory schools. The Cambridges have also looked around Papplewick, just 11 minutes away (one particularly smart pupil there told Catherine she looked like the Duchess of Cambridge), but again, all it takes is boys. And they would have been mad not to consider Bishopsgate, a small and understated co-ed prep school on the edge of Windsor Great Park, though they probably would have decided it was too sleepy for their brood after the buzz of Thomas’s. battery sea.

Under Berkshire’s circle of preparatory schoolswhich also includes Cheam and Elstree, Lambrook is considered “very respectable but not one of the fancy” – similar to Thomas’s Battersea, which was considered an off-piste choice for the Cambridges who, friends assumed, would send George straight to Wetherby in Kensington, the boys’ school Prince William himself attended before Ludgrove.

Like Thomas’s, Lambrook has a few aristos in his books, but his bread and butter are driven, affluent families who want their children to have a happy free-range childhood while eventually scoring places in state public schools. A busload of pupils arrives from London every day, but most families live locally – which is no small feat financially, as a nondescript five-bedroom house a mile from the school, covering just over two acres, is currently is up for sale for £3.5 million.

According to current parents, Lambrook offers a modern, cozy and nurturing take on the quintessential prep school experience - Ian Jones/Lambrook School

According to current parents, Lambrook offers a modern, cozy and nurturing take on the quintessential prep school experience – Ian Jones/Lambrook School

“Everything at Lambrook is freshly painted; it’s a really good parent and the kids are all very polite,” explains one parent who chose a more rough prep school instead. “During our open day tour, the kids all made personalized Lambrook key rings at the DT center and were sent home with Lambrook wooden yo-yos in a reusable Lambrook burlap sack – I can’t believe how much it cost them. We went back there a few weeks ago when our son was playing in a cricket match and again I couldn’t believe how polished and looked after it is. I have to say that the match tea looked good, but the cakes didn’t taste like anything.”

And yet, despite all the glossy marketing articles and swirling Victoria sponges, Lambrook is yielding its 560 apprentices. Overall admission results are excellent, with students receiving scholarships to both William’s former high school, Eton, and Catherine’s, Marlborough. But equally important to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be Lambrook’s dedication to raising happy, well-adjusted children who are interested in the world – it was one of the factors that drew them to Thomas’s home, where the values ​​of kindness , politeness, curiosity and creativity are stimulated. “They have one chance at the education that will form the foundation of their lives and at the same time at one childhood,” Lambrook’s headmaster, Jonathan Perry, explains in the prospectus. “Our goal is to maintain a happy balance between the two.”

This will match the Duke and Duchess, whose parenting philosophy seems to be all about balance. They’ll appreciate that their kids no longer have to sit on the bus for 45 minutes to get to their playing fields – Lambrook has 42 acres of its own cricket, football and rugby fields, plus a nine-hole golf course and 25-metre swimming pool. The Cambridge kids will now play sports every day, including a few games a week. You are never far from the sound of a ball hitting a bat, stick or racket, according to the prospectus, and you learn to accept both victory and defeat with grace and humility. It will hurt William that Lambrook’s first eleventh football team was defeated by Ludgrove this year, but perhaps Prince George, who is a passionate footballer, will remedy that result in the future.

Prince William arrives for his first day in Ludgrove in 1990 - Shutterstock

Prince William arrives for his first day in Ludgrove in 1990 – Shutterstock

Meanwhile, Louis will have rows of wellies lined up outside his reception room for “Forest Fridays,” when the younger kids go deep into the grounds to build a den and make marshmallows by the fire. From the age of seven, weekday boarding is an option, either for one night every so often or, for an additional £1,481 per term, five nights a week. “Even the most local parents love the idea that their little ones can stay overnight if they need to – it means they can throw dinner parties and have hangovers without having to drive the kids to school the next day,” says a source.

For this reason, Friday nights are the most popular for boarding schools – parents can show up well-rested after classes on Saturdays to watch matches, plays and recitals without affecting their work week or their social lives.

The Lambrook parents are tickled that the Cambridges want to join their herd, but there is also a degree of trepidation that the school could change as a result. Demand has increased so much since the rumors of the royal arrivals that there is now a long waiting list. “We’ll see what happens – if it gets too crazy, we won’t send our second child there. We like it the way it is,” says one concerned parent.

But once the initial excitement wears off, they’ll see just how normal the Cambridges are. (In fact, with their four-bedroom home and no live-in staff, their setup is positively modest compared to some Lambrook families). Due to their busy schedules, they probably won’t be running the PTA anytime soon, but they always show up for their kids—a mom at Louis’ kindergarten raves about how dedicated they are, even the most petite preschoolers show up. school events.

Leaving Lambrook, the three Cambridge three will have their Lambrook “feathers to fly”, the skills to navigate the highs and lows of life. Where they will fly to, however, is a mystery, as William and Catherine have already proven that when it comes to raising their children, they will not be guided by tradition.

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