Two European Princesses Become Schoolmates at a U.K. College with Lots of Royal History

Princess Leonor of Spain and Princess Alexia of the Netherlands are back to school

Princess Alexia of The Netherlands; Princess Leonor
Princess Alexia; Princess Leonor. Photo: Patrick van Katwijk/WireImage; Jesús Hellín/Europa Press via Getty Images

The new class at United World College of the Atlantic in the U.K. includes not one but two European princesses.

Heir to the Spanish throne Princess Leonor, 15, and Princess Alexia of the Netherlands, 16, are now classmates at UWC Atlantic in Wales. Both royal teens are taking a two-year course at the boarding school to earn their International Baccalaureates.

On Monday, the Dutch royal family shared a photo of Princess Alexia, the second daughter of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, ready to leave for school. Wearing a pair of ripped jeans and a red and black shirt, she carries a large black back along with a guitar slung over her shoulder. And staying safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, she has a mask in her hand as she smiles for the camera.

Princess Leonor was photographed hugging her parents, King Felipe and Queen Letizia, as she headed to the school to start the new term.

UWC Atlantic hosts students from around the world and follows an international curriculum that blends education and community service.

The school has a long royal history. Queen Elizabeth currently serves as president of the college alongside Queen Noor of Jordan. (Until his death in 2013, Nelson Mandela was also a president.)

There's also plenty of royal alumni, from Alexia's father King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to Princess Raiyah bint Hussein, daughter of King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan. More recently, heir to the Belgian throne Princess Elisabeth completed her education there before enrolling at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels in 2020.

UWC Atlantic also has a secure and beautiful campus that includes the 12th century St. Donat's Castle, making it an optimal choice for royal students.

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UWC Atlantic was founded in 1962 by Kurt Hahn, who had previously set up Gordonstoun School. The strict boarding school that used physical punishments in Scotland was famously attended by Prince Philip, as portrayed in The Crown.

Prince Charles also attended his father's alma mater but didn't thrive in the same way. He later called his years at Gordonstoun as "Colditz in kilts" — and sent his own sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, to Eton College.

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