It has been nicknamed the ‘Hippie Hogwarts’ but at 12th century St Donat’s Castle, it isn’t Harry Potter and The Dark Arts that are likely to cross your path, it’s European royalty.
Quicker than you can say Expelliaramus, Royals are signing up to do a two-year course which costs an eye-watering £67,000 at the less than mystically titled, UWC Atlantic College.
Sadly, there’s no Quidditch pitch, instead, the school’s pupils head to the castle’s jousting field for their extra-curricular activities.
These include callisthenics, a form of fitness that uses gravity and body weight leverage to challenge your fitness level (broomsticks sound so much easier!) ultimate frisbee and Tai Chi.
Spain’s future Queen, Princess Leonor, 15, is the latest to become a student following in the footsteps of alumni including Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Princess Raivah bint Al-Hussein of Jordan.
Set on the country’s south coast, the school was founded by German educationalist Kurt Hahn who also established Prince Charles’s alma mater, Gordonstoun.
Hahn believed his approach to education, for pupils aged 16-19, could lead to a quicker resolution of international conflict, an ethos that is still carried by the establishment today which aims to ‘promote mutual understanding’.
The United World College Movement includes 18 schools around the world and takes students from around 150 countries. It counts HM The Queen and Queen Noor of Jordan as its current co-presidents and encourages international cooperation from students of all background.
Pupils are discouraged from showcasing their wealth with expensive gadgets, and are as likely to rub shoulders with ‘refugees from west Africa’ as they are with ‘California hippies.’
Despite having to acclimatise to damp clothes, courtesy of the Welsh wet weather, the school is set on a clifftop and is described as a magical place with its own seafront, woodland, farmland and valley.
St Donat’s is the main building of the College, housing the Tudor Great Hall, the Gothic Dining Hall, the Bradenstoke Hall used for assemblies and performances and an extensive 25,000-book Library.
Students at the school stay in eight purpose-built boarding houses, which accommodate approximately 48 students each. There is no Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin, the college has instead opted to name the houses after ancient Welsh kingdoms or benefactors.
Male and female pupils are separated by corridors, with four students from the same year group, each of a different nationality, sharing a room. Houseparents live in adjacent homes with staff offices, student areas and departments including the Theory of Knowledge, located in the main castle.
The lessons start at 8 am and finish at lunchtime. The two-year diploma includes the International Baccalaureate and a programme of learning that includes key aspects of peace, a sustainable future and student initiative.
The College’s literary options include English, French, Czech, Russian, Tibetan, Swedish and Urdu.
Pupils are encouraged to be ’empowered’ to take ‘authentic responsibility to make their own decisions and actions and focus on a lifelong commitment to service in the community.
The College has a strong tradition of boat design and boat building. In 2014 the college helped design a new boat in conjunction with companies in Japan, to help in the aftermath of a tsunami.
There’s also a private farm with several animals including two six-year-old donkeys, Ava and Hugo.
Feature image via BBC