Early life and education
Charles was born at Buckingham Palace in London during the reign of his maternal grandfather George VI on 14 November 1948, at 9:14 pm (GMT), the first child of Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and first grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. He was baptised in the palace's Music Room by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, on 15 December 1948.[fn 3]
The death of his grandfather and the accession of his mother as Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 made Charles her heir apparent. As the monarch's eldest son, he automatically took the titles Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Charles attended his mother's coronation at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953.
Prince Charles with his parents and sister in October 1957
As was customary for upper-class children at the time, a governess, Catherine Peebles, was appointed and undertook his education between the ages of five and eight. Buckingham Palace announced in 1955 that Charles would attend school rather than have a private tutor, making him the first heir apparent to be educated in that manner. On 7 November 1956, Charles commenced classes at Hill House school, located in west London. He did not receive preferential treatment from the school's founder and then-head, Stuart Townend, who advised the Queen to have Charles train in because the boys were never deferential to anyone on the football field. Charles then attended two of his father's former schools, Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire, England, from 1958, followed by Gordonstoun in the north-east of Scotland, beginning classes there during April 1962. Though he reportedly characterised the latter school, noted for its especially rigorous curriculum, as "Colditz in kilts", Charles subsequently praised Gordonstoun, stating it had taught him "a great deal about myself and my own abilities and disabilities. It taught me to accept challenges and take the initiative." In a 1975 interview, he said he was "glad" he had attended Gordonstoun and that the "toughness of the place" was "much exaggerated". He spent two terms in 1966 at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia, during which time he visited Papua New Guinea on a school trip with his history tutor, Michael Collins Persse. In 1973, Charles described his time at Timbertop as the most enjoyable part of his whole education. Upon his return to Gordonstoun, Charles emulated his father in becoming Head Boy. He left in 1967, with six GCE O-levels and two A-levels in history and French, at grades B and C respectively. On his early education, Charles later remarked, "I didn't enjoy school as much as I might have, but that was only because I'm happier at home than anywhere else."
Charles broke royal tradition a second time when he proceeded straight to university after his A-levels, rather than joining the British Armed Forces. In October 1967, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read anthropology, archaeology, and history. During his second year, Charles attended the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, studying Welsh history and language for a term. He graduated from Cambridge with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts on 23 June 1970, the first heir apparent to earn a university degree. On 2 August 1975, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge, in accordance with the university's practice.