Princess Anne’s children “spared embarrassment” by school “cover-up”

A tutor who tied a student to a chair and left her in the air for hours on a boat because he caught her smoking says he believes the incident was covered up for save the school and the embarrassment of the children of Princess Anne.

The Seamanship Teacher disclosed the incident in a written statement about his stay in Gordonstoun at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

The man, known only as Robert, worked for the school favored by the royal family between 1984 and 1998.

Read more:Is Princess Anne set to become the Queen’s new wife after Prince Phillip’s death?

He is among a number of teachers testifying to their time there, including a former principal who claimed the school was stranded in the Victorian era when he arrived, with rituals involving punching , kicks, nipple adjustments and even a mark.

Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Zara and Peter Phillips all attended the school known for its strict discipline.

Although she did not attend as at that time there were only boys, Princess Anne was reportedly governor of the Scottish boarding school for a short time.

Robert told the inquest that he believes corporal punishment teaches children right from wrong, but this was not a view shared by his manager Mark Pyper.



The Queen visits Prince Charles in Gordonstoun on his last day in 1969

According to Joe Hutchison in the Scottish Daily Mail, he admitted to strapping a student to a chair and hoisting her into the air using a rope system on the Seaspirit boat after being caught smoking at edge.

Robert said: “I hoisted a seven foot student up and left her for two and a half hours.

“I felt it was enough to get her caught smoking. She broke the school rules and the cardinal rules of the sea.”

The girl complained about her treatment and Robert said he had been asked to leave school by Mr Pyper, via the chaplain.

He said: “One of the school principals told me to keep my head under the parapet. The incident was hidden from the public to avoid embarrassment.

“Princess Anne had children in school during this time and I suspect it was to stop embarrassing them as well.”




Mr Pyper, 74, told the inquest that he arrived at the school in 1990, he was “shocked” by what he saw.

He said: “Gordonstoun was at his best in the Victorian era. Houses had ritual initiations and were full of punches, kicks, nipple tweaks and even marks.

“I was shocked at what I found, saw and heard when I arrived.”

Mr Pyper revealed that the school had not been seen by the Care Inspectorate for 17 years – something which is expected to happen every seven years.



Peter Phillips (left) and Zara Phillips (right) depart from Buckingham Palace by horse-drawn carriage as part of the jubilee celebrations in 2002
Peter Phillips (left) and Zara Phillips (right) depart from Buckingham Palace by horse-drawn carriage as part of the jubilee celebrations in 2002

But when he tried to expel students for bullying and outlawed corporal punishment, he met resistance from staff and students and was kept in the dark about allegations of previous abuse.

Earlier this week David Hanson, who taught at Aberlour House in Moray between 1965 and 2001, serving as principal for a period in 1990 and 1991, said it was considered Gordonstoun Primary School.

After hearing allegations of sexual abuse during the investigation, he told the judge that the school had a “family atmosphere”.

He said: “As far as I know everything was going perfectly fine, in the small community there was no problem.”

But a former student called the behavior of some students “savage” and said racism and sexism were rife.

There have also been allegations of historic sexual abuse at school.

Members of the royal family are said to have had different experiences of the school where Prince Phillip excelled in sports.


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Although he called the school ‘Colditz in kilts’, the Duke of Edinburgh sent his three sons there and reports suggest Charles was bullied and hated his time there.

But sportsmen Peter and Zara Phillips are said to have excelled in school and in 2018 Zara said she loved her time there.

She told an interviewer: “I loved school, I loved sports and being with my friends all the time.

“I don’t know how much work I’ve done. You are homesick, but I had so much fun and Pete was very protective.

“All his friends were too. They kept me out of trouble. After Dorset, I joined him in Gordonstoun.

“He was hanging out with a group of fun loving guys, but he always knew how to get away with it.

“When he was appointed Chief Prefect, I said to myself, ‘How did you do it? “”

Lady Helen Taylor, the daughter of the Queen’s cousin Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, is also said to have enjoyed her stay in Gordonstoun.

Teachers and students were testifying in the section covering residential schools and Lady Smith’s investigation continues.

Fettes College, Edinburgh, Keil School, Dumbarton, Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh and Queen Victoria School, Dunblane will all be examined in the survey to be held at osebery House in Edinburgh.


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