Sofia, 16, follows in the footsteps of her older sister Princess Leonor, the future queen of Spain, who graduated from the school at the end of the last academic year. Leonor’s classmates included Princess Alexia of the Netherlands, the middle daughter of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima.
Past alumni include King Willem-Alexander, Princess Raiyah bint Al Hussein of Jordan, and Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, Belgium’s future queen, who went on to study at Oxford. They’ve all eaten in the huge gothic dining hall and lived in four-person dormitories in one of the eight houses on the 122-acre seafront campus. King Willem-Alexander relished being part of the school’s lifeboat service, and it was at UWC Atlantic in the 1960s that the rigid inflatable boat (RIB) was invented.
That’s typical of the truly modern education offered within. Founded in 1962 by Dr Kurt Hahn, who set up Gordonstoun, the alma mater of the Duke of Edinburgh (who loved it) and the Prince of Wales (now King Charles III, who hated it), UWC Atlantic aimed to bridge social, national and cultural divides, and according to the college, ‘its mission was… to promote peace through progressive education’. Sixty years later, UWC has 18 campuses on four continents, educating more than 10,500 pupils each year from 150 countries. Former college presidents include the Prince of Wales and Nelson Mandela – Queen Noor of Jordan is currently in the post.
With its roll call of royalty, the school sounds very grand. But UWC Atlantic is, deliberately, far from that. The 360 pupils studying in Wales come from 90 different countries and are specifically chosen for their diversity, as well as their ‘mindset, attitude and genuine passion to serve society’. UWC pupils fall into two categories: culturally, politically, socially and economically diverse scholars from more than 155 countries worldwide who are selected by 3,000 volunteers globally; and fee-paying students.
With so much to offer, and such a dynamic cohort of students, Infanta Sofia of Spain is no doubt set for an exciting new chapter.