Why It’s Not Uncommon For Royal Family Members To Skip College


For the upper class of just about any society, attending and graduating college is expected and encouraged. There is no group more “upper class” than the British royal family, but it’s not so uncommon for members of The Firm to decide to follow other paths. Prince Edward’s daughter, Lady Louise Windsor, recently announced she will be attending St. Andrews University, but other members chose different paths. Let’s look at the members who went to college and those who didn’t. 

Prince William And Kate Middleton Also Went To St. Andrews

A young Kate Middleton walking with her graduation gown on, carry her degree.
Kate Middleton at her graduation from St. Andrews University in 2005. (MICHAEL DUNLEA/AFP via Getty Images)

After attending the prestigious boarding school Eton, Prince William took a gap year before studying geography at St. Andrews in 2001. He lived in St Salvator’s Hall, where he met a fellow first-year student by the name of Kate Middleton. Middleton, who had also taken a gap year before beginning her studies, was studying art history. Though they quickly became friends, they didn’t start dating until 2003. 

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Prince Harry Served In The Military

Prince Harry on the left, wearing a flight suit, standing with his instructor in front of helicopter.
Prince Harry with his helicopter instructor in 2009. (PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Prince Harry followed in his brother’s footsteps by studying at Eton and also took a gap year after completing his studies. Instead of enrolling at a traditional university, Harry trained at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which is similar to West Point in the U.S. After finishing his training, Harry was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Army, where he became a helicopter pilot and later served a tour in Afghanistan. He resigned from the military in 2015 but chose not to attend university. 

Queen Elizabeth II Had No Time For College

A black and white photo of then-Princess Elizabeth in a military uniform standing in front of a medical truck in 1945
The future Queen Elizabeth II during World War II in 1945 (Keystone/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth didn’t attend college either. In fact, as a young princess preparing to be queen one day, she received very little formal schooling—but that’s not to say she didn’t get an education. In fact, she was privately tutored by Sir Henry Marten, who was the head of Eton at the time.

By the time Elizabeth reached college age, the U.K. was in the depths of World War II. Towards the end of the war, the future queen was appointed to a mostly honorary position in the military, but she did work for a short time as a driver and mechanic in the army. Immediately after the war, she started working full-time on behalf of the family. 

Prince Charles Bucked Tradition

Black and white photo of Prince Charles sitting at desk holding a pen and looking at the camera.
Prince Charles studying at Trinity College, Cambridge (AFP via Getty Images)

Unlike his mother and other future sovereigns, Prince Charles did receive a formal education. After finishing studies at the boarding school Gordonstoun in Scotland, he deferred the usual tradition of joining the military and enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1970, becoming the first future king or queen of England to earn a college degree.

Meghan Markle Had A More Traditional American Education

Being American, Meghan Markle had a much different upbringing than her fellow royal family members. After finishing high school at Immaculate Heart High School in her hometown of Los Angeles, Markle attended Northwestern University outside Chicago, in Evanston, IL. Markle had a pretty remarkable four years as a student at Northwestern: she spent a summer in Argentina working as an intern at the U.S. embassy and later spent her junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain. The future actress graduated in 2003 with degrees in international studies and, of course, theater. 

Camilla And Diana Both Skipped College

The evidence seems to point to neither Camilla Parker Bowles nor Princess Diana being exceptional students while in secondary school, and it’s not surprising that, as young members of the high society set, both skipped university. Princess Diana married Charles when she was 20 years old and gave birth to Prince William about a year later. Instead of college, she got right down to living life. 

Queen Elizabeth’s Other Kids

Princess Anne also skipped college and began working on behalf of the family at 18. Her younger brother Prince Andrew joined the army at 18, where he was also a helicopter pilot. Like Charles, Prince Edward attended Cambridge, though his admission was controversial as he was not known as a great student. Nonetheless, he graduated in 1986. 

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