The Queen Remembered, Final Part: Family ties at Gordonstoun

October 10, 2022

In the final part of our series on the Queen’s links with the Scottish Episcopal Church, the focus turns to Gordonstoun, the school where three of the Queen’s children were educated.

Prince Charles, Price Andrew and Prince Edward followed in the footsteps of their father, Prince Philip, who had been one of the first pupils to attend Gordonstoun after it was founded in 1934. The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, did not attend Gordonstoun which at that time was for boys only, but her children Peter and Zara did attend the school.

There are two places of worship at Gordonstoun: St Christopher’s Chapel, and the smaller Michael Kirk in the school grounds, which is mainly for prayer and reflection rather than services. When the Queen worshipped at Gordonstoun, it was at St Christopher’s Chapel.

“The Queen visited Gordonstoun on a number of occasions as a parent and attended worship on some of those visits,” says the Rev Philip Schonken, Deputy Head Pastoral at Gordonstoun and Assistant Curate at Holy Trinity, Elgin and St Margaret’s, Lossiemouth.

“Three of her children attended the school, so she was back and forth over those years. The last time she attended as a parent was in July 1982 at a farewell service at St Christopher’s Chapel, when Prince Edward left school [pictured above].

“We also have photographs of the Queen leaving St Christopher’s Chapel in 1975, and attending the school’s golden jubilee celebrations in 1984 [pictured below, showing The Queen visiting the Round Square with housemaster Angus Miller].

“I joined the school in 2010 and was fortunate to meet The Queen when she opened our sports centre that year. It was an honour to welcome her to the school.”

The 2010 ceremony is understood to be the last time the Queen visited Gordonstoun, although Prince Philip returned in later years, and Princess Anne and Prince Edward are regular visitors, both having visited in recent months.

King Charles III, then Prince Charles, left Gordonstoun in 1967 before going on to study archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge.

Main picture above: The Queen leaves St Christopher’s Chapel in 1975, accompanied by Mr Kempe, the Lord Lieutenant (Captain Iain Tennant), Prince Andrew and the Duke of Edinburgh.


Other parts in the ‘Remembering the Queen’ series:

Part 1: A long tradition at St Kentigern’s Ballater

Part 2: Rosslyn Chapel hosts a Royal Visit

Part 3: A Primus preaches at Sandringham

Part 4: A childhood at Glamis Castle