School cured Duke of smacking

By Helen Studd


THE Duke of York [Prince Andrew] says that being beaten at school turned him against corporal punishment. He ruled out smacking his own children after he was disciplined at his prep school, Heatherdown in Berkshire.

In an interview recorded for broadcast this morning on GMTV in support of the NSPCC’s Full Stop appeal, he said that he was grateful that neither the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh had laid a finger on him.

pic of Prince Andrew nowAsked if his parents ever smacked him as a child, the Duke of York, who turned 40 this year, said: “Never, ever.” At school it was different. “I think I probably got one sanction taken against me, but that was all.”

The Duke is not the first royal to complain that he was beaten during his childhood. The Prince of Wales has said in the past that he had an unhappy upbringing, due in part at least to numerous rows with his father, a rough time at Gordonstoun, which he described as a “hell-hole”, and a lack of hugs and kisses from a rather stoic Queen. The brothers have grown up to treat their own children very differently. The Duke refuses to smack his children, Princess Beatrice, 12, and Princess Eugenie, 10, preferring to use other forms of punishment.

He said: “I have a very simple philosophy and that is, with my children, there are a set of boundaries and if they step over those boundaries, then you have to find some form of sanction and that sanction can be what the parent chooses.

“I’m not entirely certain that smacking is necessarily the right one. It is not a sanction that I have used on my children, apart from the odd playful ‘Oi’.”

He admitted his daughters had had “slight advantages” in their upbringing over other children of their age in that they are “supervised slightly more than quite a lot of children and they’ve got a secure environment within which to play and to grow up”.

He also said that he had not sheltered his children from the harsh realities of child abuse and cruelty.

Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.

(Picture of Prince Andrew today by Reuters 27 October)


Corpun file 6239


The Times, London, 28 October 2000

Discreet head does not recall royal beating

By Alan Hamilton

An eight-year-old Prince Andrew is greeted by James Edwards at Heatherdown Preparatory School in 1968

THE headmaster who beat the Duke of York at his preparatory school said yesterday that he had no recollection of the event. James Edwards, 75, recalled that the standard form of punishment at Heatherdown, near Ascot, was a clothes brush administered to the backside.

Mr Edwards, who lives in retirement in the West Country, was head of the school seven miles from Windsor Castle that the young Prince Andrew attended between 1968 and 1973 before going to Gordonstoun.

Even if he could recall the incident he would not dream of breaking the confidentiality, he said.

In an interview to launch the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Full Stop appeal against cruelty to children, the Duke said that he had once been beaten at his prep school, but would never beat his own children. His parents had never hit him, he added.

Mr Edwards recalled yesterday that he had inherited the clothes brush, the school’s only form of corporal punishment, from his predecessor as headmaster. “I disapproved of the cane, and I strongly disapproved of older boys administering punishment to younger ones, as happened in some schools,” he said.

The clothes brush was used only rarely. “If you have to have corporal punishment, it has to be standardised, which is why I never entrusted it to anyone else,” Mr Edwards said.

He has mixed feelings about corporal punishment being banned in schools. “Its danger was that it was always open to abuse,” he said.

Before Heatherdown, set in its own 30 acres of grounds, closed in 1982, it also schooled to Prince Edward, James Ogilvy, the son of Princess Alexandra, and the Earl of St Andrews, the eldest son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. There is no record of any of them having suffered the clothes brush, which was clearly an effective instrument: the Duke of York said that, when he moved on to Gordonstoun, he never suffered corporal punishment again.

Neither the Duke nor his headmaster was prepared to say what misdemeanour prompted the punishment. Suspicion remains that the clothes brush was administered following an incident during a school outing to the Natural History Museum in London, when Prince Andrew was 11. Some Heatherdown boys were involved in a scuffle with teenagers who were said to have approached them demanding money.

Buckingham Palace vehemently denied that the Prince had been involved. The discreet Mr Edwards may have known better.