Cambridges break with tradition and shun boarding school for their children

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their three children, George, Charlotte and Louis, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Pageant - Max Mumby/Indigo
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their three children, George, Charlotte and Louis, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Pageant - Max Mumby/Indigo

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are to start a new school together after relocating to Windsor, Kensington Palace has confirmed, as the Cambridges swap the royal tradition of early boarding for the hands-on daily school run.

The Cambridge children will attend Lambrook school, a private co-educational prep which prioritises happiness, kindness and “concern about the world in which they live” as well as having pet rabbits to improve pupil’s wellbeing.

They will be day pupils to begin with, meaning nine-year-old Prince George will be the first "future king" in recent generations not to be boarding at the same age.

His father Prince William attended Ludgrove and his grandfather Prince Charles was at Cheam, both boarding there and at their later schools of Eton and Gordonstoun respectively. The young Kate Middleton boarded from the age of 13.

Lambrook offers "flexi boarding", in which pupils can sleepover from the occasional night with their friends to five days each week.

The Duke and Duchess are likely to consider boarding options as the children get older, concentrating on allowing them to settle into a new routine of daily school runs and family time each morning and evening first.

The Cambridges' decision will see the three children attend the same school for the first time, following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren in the Berkshire institution.

The move comes as the family of five move into Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor estate, a short walk from the Queen’s residence at Windsor Castle and close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Frogmore Cottage. It is also closer to the Duchess’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton in Bucklebury, Berkshire.

They will lease the four-bedroom Grade II listed cottage, which was built for Queen Adelaide in 1831 and belongs to the Crown Estate, at market rate and will have no live-in staff for the first time since Prince George was born.

There will be no additional security costs.

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

It forms a major move for the Cambridge family, intended to allow the Duke and Duchess to continue their roles as senior members of the working Royal Family while giving their children a more private, rural upbringing than they currently enjoy in Kensington.

It will be a fourth property for the family, who will retain their apartment at Kensington Palace as a working base and offices for their staff. The Duke and Duchess will commute there for in-person meetings and official engagements.

They also have a ten-bedroom home at Anmer Hall in Norfolk, a wedding present from the Queen which they will keep for weekends and holidays, and the Tam-Na-Ghar holiday cottage in Scotland which Prince William was given by his great-grandmother the Queen Mother in 2002.

A source said Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are “excited to be able to go to the same school together”, with their mother or father able to do their school run each day.

They have already visited the school, and will be invited to join other new students for orientation sessions ahead of their first time in early September.

All three will be day pupils, although the school does offer “flexi boarding”.

Lambrook School - Ian Jones
Lambrook School - Ian Jones

The decision is intended to allow the children to grow up in more freedom from the "goldfish bowl" of Kensington Palace.

A source said: "These are two parents who have sat down and thought really carefully about how they can continue to work and fulfil their duties while doing their best for their children."

Jonathan Perry, who will be the children's new headmaster at Lambrook School, said: “We are delighted that Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will be joining us this coming September and very much look forward to welcoming the family, as well as all of our new pupils, to our school community.”

Confirming the news via their Kensington Palace office, the Duke and Duchess said they are "hugely grateful" to Thomas’s Battersea, where Prince George and Princess Charlotte "have had a happy start to their education".

They added they are "pleased to have found a school for all three of their children which shares a similar ethos and values".

Ben Thomas, principal of Thomas’s London Day Schools, said: “We would like to thank George, Charlotte and all of our leaving pupils for upholding the school’s values and for their many contributions to school life throughout their time at Thomas’s.

"We wish them every happiness and success at their next schools and beyond.”

Prince Louis, who is four, will have his first day at pre-prep in September, joining his older siblings Prince George, eight, and seven-year-old Prince Charlotte as they all embark on a new adventure.

Lambrook, which teaches 615 boys and girls aged 3 - 13, offers “flexi boarding”, between one and five nights a week at the request of families. It costs between £13,167 and £20,997, with boarders paying £25,440 a year.

In 52 acres of land, it has an orchard, woodland, bees, chickens, piglets, a nine-hole golf course, a 25m swimming pool, state-of-the-art sports facilities as well as a dance studio.

The Princes and Princess will notice the name of their great-grandmother on the “Queen’s Building”, a £6m development for art, design and technology. The performing arts studio is also named in her honour, after the “Diamond Jubilee”.

While it is not as well-known to the public for its royal links, it has some historic ties through Queen Victoria.

In 1878, two of her grandsons Prince Christian Victor and Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein were Lambrook pupils, with Victoria taking a carriage from Windsor Castle to watch them in cricket matches and plays.

The Good Schools Guide describes how children “tumble in, ruddy-cheeked and full of fresh air” from playtime, with every class having a veg patch and rabbits to stroke at lunchtime being “good for everybody’s general zen”.

Mr Perry told the publication “we are not a sharp-elbowed environment”, adding of their drive to encourage pupils to be outward-looking citizens: “We’d be really sad if our children were arrogant so-and-sos.”

Adelaide Cottage was once home to Princess Margaret’s lover Peter Townsend, who lived there in the 1940s with his first wife in his role as equerry to the King.

The principal bedroom had a coved ceiling decorated with gilded dolphins and rope ornament reused from the 19th century royal yacht Royal George, although it is thought to have been redecorated since.