“No, Your Highness, you’re NOT allowed any more pudding! And while we’re at it, why haven’t you finished your prep?!”
Not words you’d imagine many royal or senior Arabs to hear very often, as another tray of baklava arrives to complement the boxes of Patchi chocolates, but, of course, it is a fact that many of the Emirati, Saudi and other GCC grands fromages were educated through the English public school system. The plush palaces of Abu Dhabi are a far cry from the icy dorms of Gordonstoun, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan rested the royal bonce after a few laps of the grounds of a frosty December morn. Perhaps his cousin, the popular and amiable Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan found his study at Millfield slightly cosier, as did Prince Waleed bin Talal bin Saud… the ideal preparation for his recent extended stay at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. As I was watching England play cricket at the Oval last year, our guest, Sheikh Nahyan’s son, Sheikh Mohammed, politely remarked that I needn’t explain the laws as he had played the game whilst at Malvern College, gently putting me in my place. Jordan’s former Deputy Prime Minister, the eminent Nasser Judeh, learnt his Latin declensions to the sound of squawking seagulls high above the cloisters of Eastbourne College, the understated alma mater of comedian and political aspirant, Eddie Izzard and Abu Dhabi based CNN correspondent and war zone enthusiast, Sam Kiley. It would take too long to count the number of GCC royals to have passed out at Sandhurst, but it’s an impressive gallery whose friendships with their fellow cadets have endured.