I went to school with prefect Prince Charles – his reaction when he caught me smoking left me stunned

Prince Charles pictured on a guided tour of Timbertop, the rural outpost campus of Geelong Grammar School during his stay at the establishment in Melbourne, Australia in February 1966. (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

PUFFING on sneaky cigarette in the school’s boiler room, a pupil was startled by the sound of a familiar voice.

“I will have those,” said a schoolboy Prince Charles to Richard Kumnick, who sheepishly handed over the packet – fully expecting to face a caning from the headmaster of Geelong Grammar School.

Prince Charles when he was at Geelong Grammar School

Pupils said they enjoyed having the future king at the school

Richard Kumnick kept a lock of the King’s hair as a memento

But Kumnick was spared the rod for this cheeky misdemeanour thanks to the generosity of the future King, who took the matter no further.

Charles spent two terms at the Australian school in 1966 when he was 17 after he left Gordonstoun in Scotland and the aim was to widen his experience of life.

His time at the school was spent at the elite school’s Timbertop campus, a remote site in the hills of Victoria, where he took part in gruelling hikes, cross-country runs and wood-cutting.

Gone was all the pomp and ceremony and the heir was simply known as Charles, though he did become a prefect.

Many years later when the Queen died, Kumnick recalled his brush with royal authority.

“It was a dark room on the side of our living quarters and I was having a Marlboro and he happened to pop into the boiler room,” he told 9News.

“I don’t know whether he called me Kumnick or not but he said, ‘I will have those thank you’.

“I was pleased that that was as far as it went, because if it had gone any further I would have ended up in Mr Hanley’s office.”

But his encounter wasn’t a one off and Charles appears to have something of a hero to the teenage smokers of Geelong Grammar School.

Jonathan ‘Jonny’ Southey also recalled he too was caught smoking by Charles, also in the boiler room.

“He said ‘Southey, you should know better than that. I better confiscate that cigarette’,” he recalled.

“Off he went, and I was about to light up another one when he came back. My stupidity led to the confiscation of the whole packet.”

In common with Richard, he also dodged the sting of the headmaster’s cane, revealed to The Age.

“So the King of England spared me. I’m very grateful to Charles for not having reported me to the headmaster, which saved me four or six cuts on the backside.”

He described the Charles he met as “a sensitive and worldly person in spite of the protected upbringing that he had”.

“I found him a thoughtful and considerate fellow. We enjoyed having him there.”

Richard Kumnick too has fond memories of Charles from their school days – and a unique memento to go with them.

He claims he went into a barbershop straight after Charles had his haircut and swiped some of the Royal’s hair from the floor as a souvenir.

“The then Prince Charles was waiting to get his hair cut and I was waiting for his to be completed,” he told Channel Nine.

“I noticed his hair drop onto the floor. It was all his because he was the first one to have is haircut.”

Richard said that despite initially looking homesick, the future King enjoyed his time at school Down Under.

“Well, I know he’s reflected on it in later years, saying that he actually really loved it,” he said.

“I think he ended up staying longer than what was ultimately intended or initially intended, I should say.”

He was asked if at the time, he thought his classmate will make a good King.

“Oh, I think he will been in the same vein as his mother,” he replied.

“He would be perfect. I’m a royalist big time. I didn’t think the time would come. I thought, maybe Charles would be too old.”

King Charles has visited Australia 16 times and in 1983, he joined by Princess Diana and the 10-month-old William on a visit that attracted huge crowds. 

He has also represented the Queen at state funerals, stole a kiss from a cheeky Aussie model and even enjoyed a dip at Bondi Beach.

Charles has returned to Geelong Grammar several times on visits to Victoria, including in 2005 to celebrate the school’s 150th birthday.

Part of my own education took place here in Australia,” Charles said during one visit to Australia.

“Quite frankly, it was by far the best part. While I was here I had the Pommy bits bashed off me. Like chips off an old block.”

The then Price Charles arriving at the school

Charles later returned to the school and was warmly greeted