Rising Wealth of Schools Attended by Royal Family Raises Questions About their Charitable Status
The school attended by William and Kate’s children has increased its asset wealth by more than £7 million, reports Iain Overton
Subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive editorial emails from the Byline Times Team.
The net assets of Lambrook School – attended by the three children of the Prince and Princess of Wales – has seen its net assets rise by 82% in the past six years.
The independent school had net assets of £16.9 million in 2021. In 2016, it declared assets of £9.3 million. If inflation is factored in over this period, the net assets of 2016 today would be worth £10.3 million. This is a 64% increase in wealth in just a few years.
The announcement that Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis would be attending Lambrook was not announced until August this year, after the financial periods examined. But the recent and sharp rise in the wealth of the school, despite its charitable status, raises questions as to the degree to which the private schools of the royals are acting in a way that truly reflects their charitable status.
Lambrook responded to concerns about the sharp accumulation of assets by stating that “we won’t be providing comment on any of our parents at the school”.
Its website promises its pupils an education that will give them the “feathers to fly” and its prospectus states that “with privilege comes responsibility”.
The 52-acre school offers “farming, bee keeping, survival skills and outdoor games” alongside “privileged access to business entrepreneurs, philanthropists and explorers”.
Don’t miss a story
It has extensive sports facilities, including football, rugby, lacrosse, tennis, netball, hockey and cricket pitches, with a 25-metre swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course as well as squash courts, hard courts, a dance studio and astroturf pitches. Its performing arts centre runs more than 400 classes in music and acting each week. If this is not enough, the school also offers fencing, scuba diving, mini-Masterchef, film-making, ballet and squash.
In the last year, its prospectus says that pupils have been to Sweden, France, Italy, Iceland and South Africa.
It is hard not to be enchanted by the opportunities on offer at Lambrook – until this privilege is seen through the lens of a local junior school.
The 2019 Ofsted report of Floreat Montague Park Primary School – which lies six miles from Lambrook – noted that it ‘requires improvement’.
It has had a “high staff turnover at all levels” and the quality of teaching was deemed “not consistently good”. According to Ofsted, there was a decline in standards in some lessons, insufficient clarity as to what pupils are learning, and a stark observation that disadvantaged pupils were not making reliably good progress “from their starting points”.
Finance appears to be relevant factor. In 2021, Floreat Montague Park had £140,300 in reserves; while Lambrook had £16.9 million – 120 times its state school neighbour.
Floreat Montague Park’s spend per pupil is £5,744 a year; while Lambrook’s private fees stretch to as much as £22,467 per pupil – almost 300% more.
The embarrassment of riches enjoyed by schools that have educated Britain’s Royal Family does not end with Lambrook.
The school attended by Princess Anne, Benenden, has seen its assets (minus liabilities) rising from £36 million in 2016 to £65 million in 2021. Even taking into account inflation — with the 2016 assets worth in 20201 some £40 million – this is still an increase of 62%: a real-life increase in assets of £25 million in just six years.
Eton College – where Princes William and Harry were educated – saw its consolidated assets in 2021 stand at a staggering £542 million. In 2016, they were just £374 million, constituting a 45% increase. Even taking into account inflation, the real-term rise of Eton’s assets has been some 31% in just a few years.
Gordonstoun – the alma mater of King Charles III (which his brothers Princes Andrew and Edward also attended) – saw its assets rise from £10.2 million in 2016 to £13.7 million in 2021. In real terms, taking into inflation, this amounts to a 21% rise.
The refrain of these schools, justifying their wealth accumulation, is that it is all for the charitable good of the children.
Lambrook School Trust Ltd claims that it re-invests all surplus funds back into its infrastructure and that it continues to provide educational services in accordance with its memorandum and articles of association.
But it raises the question: how can the schools the Royal Family attend justify their immense accumulation of assets when they also enjoying the tax benefits of charities? It is an awkward challenge that goes to the very heart of the debate about class, fairness, tax and equality in modern Britain.
This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigative project formed by Byline Times with The Citizens. If you would like to find out more about the Intelligence Team and how to fund its work, click on the button below.