Inside Prince Harry’s education from boarding school to skipping uni & how his career path differs from Meghan’s


PRINCE Harry, the Duke of Sussex’s education started very far away from the Californian coast where he now lives with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their two children Archie, three, and one-year-old Lillibet. 

Prep school

The 37-year-old began his life outside of Kensington Palace at London’s Jane Mynors’ nursery school with his older brother, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

Harry on his first day of nursery in London, pictured with Wills, Charles and Diana

Harry dressed in his school uniform at Eton college where he went from 1998-2003

Harry has been described as a quiet kid, opposed to Wills who was nicknamed “Basher”.  

One mother at the nursery described Harry “as quiet as a mouse, poor little thing”, refusing to join in with games in the playground, sometimes choosing to stand by himself instead. 

“It was perhaps an early sign that he was going to do things his way”, his old teacher Ms Levin remembered. 

“He seemed happiest in his own little world, left alone to get on with what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it, without interference”. 

Harry spent his pre-preparatory years at Wetherby School in Notting Hill and later attended Ludgrove School in Berkshire. 

Becoming an Etonian

The choice of Harry’s secondary school perhaps came as a surprise after it was expected that he would attend Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland where his father, Prince Charles, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other Mountbatten-Windsors, had attended. 

Instead, both Harry and William attended Eton College, continuing the Spencer family tradition. 

Harry gained an impressive 11 GSCEs but preferred activities outside of the classroom, representing Eton in rugby, polo and cricket. 

Harry left Eton in 2003 with two A-levels, a B in Art and a D in Geography after deciding to drop History of Art after AS level. 

Reflecting on his school boy years, Harry, in conversation with Meghan Markle and Malala Yousafzi, revealed that he took his £42,501-a-year private school education for granted. 

“I’m hugely grateful for the education I was lucky enough to have. At the time I certainly probably wasn’t as grateful, but looking back at it now, I’m very, very blessed with having such an amazing opportunity”.

Gap year – parties and charities

Described as not “as academically gifted as his older brother” William, who left with a 2.1 MA Hons from St Andrews, Harry chose instead to take a gap year around Australia at the age of 19.

There he worked as a “jackaroo” on a cattle station, repairing fences, learning basic cowboy skills and herding bulls on his horse called “Guardsman”. 

His years at school playing polo meant that Harry felt quite comfortable riding a horse, but learning how to be a cowboy was far from the green fields of Eton. 

Harry has spoken fondly of his time in Australia describing it as “a great country. I have had a great time working out here, meeting people and learning a bit about how to be a jackaroo”. 

However, not everything about Harry’s gap year was looked on so kindly with many reports about his “wild behaviour” and “hard partying” at that time. 

It was hoped that Harry’s two months of working with orphaned children in Lesotho would help to improve his image.

By being in Lesotho Harry hoped he would inspire “charities in England to sort of recognise Lesotho as a country that needs help” as he declared in an interview at the time. 

Harry also produced a documentary film called The Forgotten Kingdom: Prince Harry in Lesotho drawing attention to the AIDS situation.

The documentary was viewed by many as Harry’s way of following in the footsteps of his mother, Princess Diana, who devoted much time illuminating the difficulties faced by people living with AIDS and HIV. 

Returning to the UK, Harry chose not to go to university, singling him as different from his brother, future sister-in-law Kate Middleton and his future wife Meghan who all attended higher education institutions. 

Meghan completed a double major in theatre and international studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. 

Like Harry, Meghan travelled in her late teens and early twenties, completing an internship at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she learnt to speak Spanish. 

Harry’s army years

Harry’s real passion was found in his education at Sandhurst where he trained to become an Officer in the British Army. 

It is traditional for members of the royal family to serve in the military with princes William, Charles and Andrew, the Duke of York all military pilots themselves respectively. 

Known as Officer Cadet Wales, Harry began his military education on 8 May 2005 and finished his officer training there the following year. 

It was announced in 2006 that Harry’s unit would be deployed in Iraq the next year. 

General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army at the time, decided that Harry would not be allowed to serve in Iraq over concerns that Harry was a very high-value target and the danger that it would bring to his fellow soldiers was too risky. 

Clarence House released a statement highlighting Harry’s disappointment but that he respected the decision. 

After two years of being a Cornet (second lieutenant) in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, he was promoted to lieutenant on 13 April 2008. 

This time it was decided by the Ministry of Defence’s senior commanders that Harry could serve in Afghanistan flying as an Apache helicopter pilot. 

Speaking about his time as a pilot Harry said, “we fire when we have to, take a life to save a life, but essentially we’re more of a deterrent than anything else”. 

After the armed forces

Leaving the Armed Forces in June 2015, Harry’s passion for the military continued in his founding of the Invictus Games in 2014, honorary military appointments and other official engagements. 

Harry has described his years in the military as “the happiest times in my life”. 

However, upon his decision with the Duchess of Sussex to step down as a senior royal, Buckingham Palace announced that Harry would “step back from Royal duties, including military appointments” and in February 2021 it was confirmed that Harry would return all his honorary military appointments. 

Young Prince Harry at Eton completing an art project

Prince Harry in Lesotho where he spent time with orphaned children

Prince Harry riding his horse ‘Guardsman’ on the cattle field he worked on in Australia

Prince Harry in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot for the British army

Prince Harry speaking at the Invictus games which he founded in 2014