Numbering the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Zara and Peter Phillips among its alumni, £41,250-a-year Gordonstoun can lay claim to more royal connections than any other public school of the modern era.
But that has not insulated it from complaints by former pupils who are ‘horrified’ and ‘staggered’ by its plans to unveil several ‘Gordonstoun schools’ in China — at a time when the Chinese regime is cracking down on the democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Foremost among them is film director and author Justin Baldwin, who captained Gordonstoun’s hockey team before directing Cash In Hand, starring Richard E Grant.
Numbering the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Zara and Peter Phillips among its alumni, £41,250-a-year Gordonstoun can lay claim to more royal connections than any other public school of the modern era
He tells me: ‘Why would we put a school in a country where they have camps to convert Muslims by feeding them pork? That’s everything that [Gordonstoun’s founder] Kurt Hahn was against,’ adds Baldwin, author of In Strangers We Trust.
Hahn, imprisoned in his native Germany for speaking out against the Nazi regime, is invoked by another critic who tells me that at least 60 other Old Gordonstounians have expressed their dismay.
‘I was telephoned by someone from Gordonstoun who was trying to raise funds for the Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th birthday next year.
‘Prince Philip is unbelievable — the perfect example of an Old Gordonstounian. But I’m not giving money at the moment. The more I think about what’s going on in Hong Kong, the more horrified I am. Kurt Hahn was a German Jew who fled to Britain from Nazi Germany. How is Gordonstoun going to reconcile his principles with a country under a Communist dictatorship?’
Hahn, imprisoned in his native Germany for speaking out against the Nazi regime, is invoked by another critic who tells me that at least 60 other Old Gordonstounians have expressed their dismay. The school is seen above
Gordonstoun assures me it ‘engages’ with former pupils ‘proactively’ if they raise concerns.
‘A handful of alumni expressed reservations about our plans to open schools in China in 2022,’ says a spokeswoman.
‘We outlined that we have our founding ethos at the centre of our plans for international expansion. We believe the school will contribute to the reform and innovation of education in China.’
Does Philip agree? Thirty-four years ago, on a tour of China, he observed that Beijing was ‘ghastly’ and advised a Scottish exchange student against remaining in the country too long, warning that if he did, he would become ‘slitty-eyed’.
Dame Judi’s latest look is— bananas!
Dame Judi Dench is a top banana in the acting world
Dame Judi Dench is a top banana in the acting world.
And the Shakespeare In Love actress shows she’s not afraid to send herself up, as she poses in this outfit given to her by Marvel actor James D’Arcy ironically after a misunderstanding about a word game. He worked briefly with the Bond star on Six Minutes To Midnight, a drama set on the eve of World War II.
‘I only worked with Dame Judi Dench for three days, but in that time she told me she was a big fan of the game Bananagrams,’ says D’Arcy.
‘I misheard and thought she wanted to be a Bananagram, so sent her the outfit to make her dreams come true. I’m told she loved it so much she will now only read scripts if she has her banana outfit on.’
It does have a certain ap-peel.
Spare a thought for best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin, whose 60th birthday party celebrations were ‘totally scuppered’ by the lockdown in Scotland.
‘I walked down to my local Edinburgh pub, The Oxford Bar, which was locked up, poured a can of beer into a glass I’d brought along, and had a drink on my own,’ says the king of tartan noir, whose next (and 23rd)Inspector Rebus novel, A Song For The Dark Times, is out in the autumn.
‘That was my 60th birthday party.’
Cara and Kaia’s social distancing needs work
Two into one will go! Supermodels Cara Delevingne and Kaia Gerber showed they can both share the limelight as they squeezed into the same jumper this week and posted the image on Instagram.
Cara, 27, and Kaia, 18, are enjoying a blossoming friendship and were recently photographed in an affectionate embrace at a Black Lives Matter protest in the U.S.
Delevingne confirmed in May that she and Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson had broken up after two years together.
Kaia, daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford and businessman Rande Gerber, split from Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson last December. Just don’t mention social distancing!
Two into one will go! Supermodels Cara Delevingne and Kaia Gerber showed they can both share the limelight as they squeezed into the same jumper this week and posted the image on Instagram
Charles Berkeley, the aristocratic owner of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, where Edward II was imprisoned before his gruesome murder in 1327, recalls a spooky family tradition.
‘As children, we used to listen out on the anniversary of Edward II’s death — September 21 — when he’s supposed to scream. One night I did hear a shrill sound, like a baby screaming, so I went and woke my brother, Henry. We looked out of the window — and there was a fox.’
Andrew Lloyd Webber has acquired a new work of art from Morgan Howell — a giant 3D painting of the 1965 Rolling Stones single (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.
‘Owning the original painting of the Satisfaction 7-inch by Morgan feels like owning a small but significant slice of pop history,’ says Lord Lloyd-Webber.
‘A piece of vinyl that thrilled and excited millions of young people, including the 17-year-old me.’
Heidi Klum brushes up quite nicely
German supermodel Heidi Klum has added another string to her bow and started to paint while in lockdown.
Klum, 47, posted this image of herself in a striped bikini as she unveiled her latest artwork on a canvas from her home in California.
The former Victoria’s Secret Angel, who is married to toyboy musician Tom Kaulitz, 30, says she ‘can’t stop painting’ as it keeps her ‘creative juices flowing’.
Unfortunately, the mother of four admits she has been unable to restrict her creative streak to the canvas, spilling paint on her mobile phone.
Klum, 47, posted this image of herself in a striped bikini as she unveiled her latest artwork on a canvas from her home in California