Princess Diana's Educational Background Just Might Surprise You
It seems like we know every detail about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales. After all, the late princess was one of the most public figures of the 20th century, living most of her life in the public eye. What you might not know yet: where she went to school. Here's what we know about Diana's unusual schooling.
Where Did Princess Diana Go to Primary School?
Diana was born The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer, daughter of Edward Spencer, Viscount Althorp, in 1961. She grew up with two older sisters, Sarah and Jane, and a younger brother, Charles; another brother, John, died the year before Diana was born. The Spencer family is one of the oldest and most blue-blooded in England, with noble lineage dating back to the 1500s. As such, the Spencers were very formal and traditional in their children's upbringing and education.
Instead of a normal primary school or preschool, Diana was initially educated at home by a governess named Gertrude Allen, as the Washington Post described. Her first real school experience was at Silfield Private School in Gayton, Norfolk, followed by an all-girls boarding prep school, Riddlesworth Hall School, when she was 9. At the age of 12, or "junior high" age, she moved schools once again, this time to West Heath Girls' School in Kent, England, where both of her sisters also went.
Diana was apparently a mediocre student, failing her O-levels (a set of standardized tests for British teenaged students) not once, but twice. However, her erstwhile official bio on the royal family's website notes that "she showed a particular talent for music (as an accomplished pianist), dancing and domestic science, and gained the school's award for the girl giving maximum help to the school and her schoolfellows."
Where Did Princess Diana Go to High School?
Diana remained at West Heath until she was 16 years old, so some of what we would consider her "high school" education took place there. She also demonstrated her love for dance, with ballet and tap in particular, though her height (and her aristocratic background) prevented her from pursuing it further.
At the age of 16, Diana left her formal education behind and instead was sent to Institut Alpin Videmanette, an elite finishing school in Rougemont, Switzerland. She stayed there through the Spring of 1978, and then returned to London.
Where Did Princess Diana Go to University?
It might seem surprising, but that finishing school in Switzerland was the last of Princess Diana's formal education. She never attended university at all, and her "high school" education had ended at 16; finishing school was more of a social formality, and her education in Switzerland included things such as sewing and French, but nothing academic. It's a testament to the times and to the norms of the aristocracy that it was still considered necessary for a woman of a certain social class to learn etiquette rather than academic subjects.
Diana did live a low-key life for a little while in London; her biographers all extensively cover the period during which she lived in London with roommates and worked several low-paying jobs, most famously as a preschool aide. This put her in further contrast with her future husband, Prince Charles, who was the first-ever heir apparent in British history to earn a college degree. While Diana was not formally educated to an extensive degree, there's no doubt that her experiences and innate compassion were fundamental in making her such a beloved member of the royal family.