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Kathy Gyngell: Sorry Charles, but cold showers are no longer a British value, more’s the pity


Poor old Prince Charles.  He really does try. And I have no doubt that the Princes’s Trust is a model charity that does untold good and that the Duchy Of Cornwall is an example of everything that a modern business should be.

But sometimes I do wonder what planet he inhabits. It seems a strange mix of Edwardian England and the post-Woodstock 1970s. That’s what crossed my mind as his strangulated vowels invaded my consciousness as I woke up on Sunday morning. He could not understand, I thought I heard him saying, why young (Muslim) Britons who were born and went to school here  did not imbibe our values.

Yes, I know every newspaper has reported him as saying that they should ‘abide by our values’ but I swear that was not what I heard him saying.

He was not making a pejorative statement.  He was asking the question – naively I fear. At least that is how I heard him.

No, unlike the the various media outlets, I am not in the slightest bothered about the new social and political storm the pundits are determined he risked provoking. He is quite right to express his alarm – and as self proclaimed defender of all faith in an ideal position to do so.

However that still did not stop me thinking  – poor old Prince Charles, when will he learn, get it and so on. Does he have any idea about the nature of the new British values that first, second and third generation immigrant children imbibe in our wondrous school system, and are, if Ofsted gets its way, made to abide by.

When did he last pop into a PSHE class in one of his local comps down in Gloucestershire – or to a morning school assembly in one of those sparkling new academies  close by Clarence House in London?  When, more to the  point, did he last read about the corruption of our education system in Britain.  When did he ever read anything written by Chris McGovern, Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education and regular blogger on The Conservative Woman?  The dark shadow of political correctness in our schools has yet, it seems, to fall across his path.

If it had he’d know exactly the values that  children both imbibe and abide by  at schools in the state system today. He know these are a far cry from his own school days. Gordonstoun values they ain’t.

Whatever Prince Charles endured in his boarding school days it was not classes in early sexual awareness or indoctrination about the perils of homophobia in the playground  – nor lessons about lesbian sex and trans-sexuality .

I suspect the British values that he assumes should be imbibed (sorry, abided by) today are similar to those that his own school, reputed for its harsh conditions, inculcated in him. I am thinking of cold showers, early morning runs and physical punishments, known as “penalty drill” or PD

I fear he is labouring under the impression that at least a pale imitation of Gordonstoun’s ‘Four Pillars’ of education are the moral pillars of the State’s education today. Impressive they were too:

  • Internationalism – the ability to understand different cultures, not to adopt them or abandon your own for
  • Challenge – taking childen out of their comfort zone and improving their ability to deal with difficult situations, in the form of serious – and I mean serious  – outdoor challenges
  • Responsibility – instilling this sense in pupils and giving opportunities for leadership roles and allowing more freedoms as the pupils progress through the years
  • Service – the school’s founder, Kurt Hahn, believed that “The Platonic view of education is that a nation must do all it can to make the individual citizen discover his own power and further more that the individual becomes a cripple in his or her point of view if he is not qualified by education to serve the community.”

They are principles that clearly have had a profound effect on Britain’s King in Waiting – and without doubt for the good –  to the point of a painful sense of responsibility and public duty.

I doubt, however, that any school  that set out to inculcate such values today would pass the first stage of an Ofsted inspection.

I am equally confident that had Muslim immigrant populations been confronted by such an ethos of self discipline and selflessness as demanded by Gordonstoun  they might well have found some ‘British’ values that they were happy to imbibe and then to abide by.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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