It’s a common question asked amongst Sloanies – a secret handshake of sorts. Britain has hundreds of boarding schools, and the top few (known, confusingly, as ‘Public Schools’ despite the fact that they’re very much fee-paying private schools) have raised and educated everyone from members of the Royal family to the most eminent politicians, rock stars, aristocrats and other assorted socialites. Let us introduce you, if we may, to Britain’s top boarding schools. And yes, they’re all a bit like Hogwarts.
The quintessential boys’ boarding school, Eton is a tiny, picture-postcard town across the River Thames from Windsor. It sits under the watchful gaze of the Queen’s main residence, Windsor Castle, and this is where Princes William and Harry went to school. Eton College has educated boys for over six hundred years, and the Eton uniform is an iconic tailcoat with pinstripe trousers. As well as the Princes, British Prime Minister David Cameron is an Old Etonian, as are Hollywood stars Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis and Tom Hiddleston. Props to their drama and politics departments…
Two Eton College boys in their tradition uniforms, and one more ‘casually-dressed’ friend
Kate, Pippa, (back row) and their college girls’ hockey team at Marlborough
Another educational seat with right Royal approval, Marlborough College in Wiltshire is a mixed boarding school where Kate, Duchess of Cornwall was once hockey captain. Her younger sister Pippa and Princess Eugenie of York (William and Harry’s cousin) are also Old Malburians, as is British actor and stand-up comedian Jack Whitehall. This is where Kate allegedly had pin-up posters of Wills on her dormitory wall as a teenager, and fees for full boarding are around $50,000 a year.
Bedales alum Poppy Delevingne
Arty and liberal Bedales has nurtured many a wild child, with singer Lily Allen and model sisters Poppy and Cara Delevingne on their rather sparkly alumni list. Bedales was the first co-educational boarding school of its time, and is proudly progressive to this day. Model Sophie Dahl went to Bedales, as did Sloanie actresses Minnie Driver, Alice Eve, and Juno Temple. Staff are called by their first names here, and students routinely turn up to lessons barefoot and in their pajamas if they fancy it. What’s not to love?
Once a boarding school with a reputation for naughty boys and general bad behaviour, Stowe has become in recent years one of the most desirable boarding schools in the country. Nothing to do with having opened its door to girls, of course. Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriends Chelsy Davy and Florence Brudenell-Bruce went to Stowe, and his current girlfriend Cressida Bonas went here too. Another Old Stoic is our current girl-crush Emma Watson, so it’s no wonder everyone wants a place here these days. James Jagger (son of Rolling Stone Mick) studied here, dreamy Henry Cavill found his passion for drama at Stowe, (he’s just played Superman in Man of Steel) and the school educates more than its fair share of lords, ladies and international Royals too.