Eton or Not…!

February 21, 2010 | By Rakhitha | Filed in: Royal College.

This is bit of an old news. I was planning to write something on this some time back but could not find time. If you have studied or are studying in Royal College you already know this. It’s about the articles on BBC News website and Lakbima News Online Edition. If you have no clue on what I am talking about, please read this article by BBC News website, and this article by Lakbima News  Online Edition, about the BBC article, and Royal College, College Song.

This began as Royal College celebrates its 175th anniversary in year 2010. This is a proud year for all of us. Royal do not pass such milestones every day. And not many schools in our country have such a long history.  BBC posted an article about it. A small part of that article compared Royal College with Eton College in UK. To be honest, when I first read the article, I went like “What the hell is Eton”. I figured that the article is about Royal College because I recognized the photo in the article and I knew it’s the Royal College that is passing 175th milestone. By reading the article I assumed Eton is a leading private school in UK. Then I googled. I am not trying to insult Eton in any way. Honestly I didn’t know much about it. Writer must have compared those two for their leading position in education field in their respective countries. That’s what I first thought. May be Royal has some similarities with Eton. Wikipedia article on Royal College says Colombo Academy was modeled on Eton when Hill Street Academy was converted to Colombo Academy in 1836. But I don’t know much about it. Also BBC article had some questionable facts. I am not here to defend neither BBC article nor the Wikipedia page.

If you are not from Royal College you might wonder what all these academies got to do with Royal College. In 1835, Royal College originally started as a private school under the name “Hill Street Academy”. Then in 1836, it was converted to a government funded school and named “Colombo Academy”. In 1859, it was affiliated to University of Oxford and renamed to “Colombo Academy and Queens College”. It was renamed “Colombo Academy” again in 1869, and finally renamed to “Royal College” in 1881.

Another thing I did not like about BBC article is, one part of it goes like “British did this”, “British did that…”, and so on. May be the article is aimed at British, not Sri Lankans or Royalists. It had nothing much about how Royal became what it is today, how many times the government tried to close it down in old days, and how its past students came to rescue. May be because that is just past. Without them, Royal College could not have become what it is today. Apart from that, it has captured a pretty good picture on the services that Royal College is doing at the moment. If you are really interested in history of Royal College there is a book called “History of Royal College”. If I am correct, you can buy that from Royal College Union Shop. Royal is one of the schools that documented its history since its early days. Therefore this book has a pretty good account of college history since its beginnings.

Obviously this BBC article made some Thomian very upset. In his mind Royal must have never been compared with Eton. I don’t know what he mailed to Lakbima News. But based on some extracts that Lakbima News published on its article, it looked like a letter of insults aimed at Royal College, not a letter of facts disputing BBC article. What shocked me and most Royalists is, Lakbima News was unprofessional and unethical enough to publish those insults even without fact checking some of the comments. Specially parts that directly insulted the College Song are completely unnecessary, irrelevant and invalid.

Main point in Lakbima News article is that some facts in BBC article are incorrect, and BBC should have done more research before publishing their article. Yes I agree. But that point could have been made easily without dedicating an entire paragraph to insult Royal College school song. Same article has some comments about western media. Probably that shows the mindset of the guy who wrote Lakbima News article. However all these insults and comments about media only distorted the facts in the article.

Specially the comment that it published about verse “We will learn of books and men, and learn to play the game” of school song was completely irrelevant to the matter, and it is entirely an insult. It clearly shows that writer has a problem with Royal College having a history of 175 years. Although Lakbima News article talks about fact checking BBC article, Lakbima News itself has not fact checked their article ether. Lakbima News don’t have to read the book “History of Royal College”. If they just search on Google or Wikipedia they will realize that, the insult about verse “School where our fathers learnt the way before us” was completely incorrect apart from the fact that it is completely irrelevant to the matter. Royal College school song was written almost a century after (in 1927) the school started (in 1835). First students of Royal College did not sing “School of Our Fathers”.

Some of you might think why these people from Royal make such a big deal out of this. Well, our college song is something we respect a lot. We sing it with pride. Some of us call it “College Song”, some call it “Thy Spirit”, Many of us including myself proudly calls it “School of Our Fathers”, even though most of our fathers including mine have not studied at Royal College. Fact that our fathers have not gone to Royal is not an issue when we sing our school song. That’s the respect we have for Royal College, which showed us the way ahead. It’s the place from which, we learned of books and men and learned to play the game of life. If someone publishes something insulting to Royal College for no logical reason at all, it’s a huge deal. How would you feel if someone insult your school this way when it is passing such a milestone?



Related Links

Royal College Website

“School of Our Fathers” on Royal College Website

Royal College on Wikipedia

“School of Our Fathers” on Wikipedia

“School of Our Fathers” on Youtube

Eton College Website

Eton College on Wikipedia

BBC Article

Lakbima News Article

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6 comments on “Eton or Not…!

  1. Navaka Navaratne says:

    Hey bro.. I’m not willing to say anything other than “Thank you” but that includes everything that I have to say. This post is just great and written in a truly ROYAL manner. Keep it up, bro! Tc. FLOREAT!

    • Rakhitha says:

      Thanks for the comment bro! In my opinion, best way to honor the school we studied, is by being the best we can be. So I just tried do everything I could to make sure this post is nothing less than my best.

      Considering my bad track record on grammar and spelling, it’s very flattering to read your comment.


  2. myil selvan says:

    Congratulations to Royal on their 175th!
    Having said that,
    the truth is Eton is more similar with S.Thomas’ than Royal.

    Royal’s deputy principal says “Royal’s strength is integration, and it has helped to over come Colonialism, Nationalism and Separatism. But Royal was born out of colonialism! So, not everything about colonialism is bad.

    Lakbima article was mainly attacking the BBC journalist.

    • Rakhitha says:

      Thanks for the comment!
      Yes I agree with your point. I am not trying to claim that Royal is the Eaton in SL. But I think that Lakbima article could have made its point in a more professional manner.


  3. Big Sam says:

    Not a credible commentary as far too many times the writer blurts “I didn’t know much about it”. Like it or not the Brits had a big role in establishing Colombo Academy or Royal and if googling is not helping RaKa know something about Eton and the likes of who has attended there, he should refrain from being this critical!

    • Rakhitha says:

      Thanks for the comment!

      Obviously I said “I didn’t know much about it” with regard to Eton as I ‘did’ not know much about it at the time. But after googling I manage to find out a great deal.

      When it comes to the claim of ‘Colombo Academy is modeled after Eton’ in Wikipedia, obviously I cannot consider that as a reliable source. I researched in order to find a more credible reference to support that but I could not. In fact Wiki page had listed BBC article as a reference, which had got some facts wrong.

      Yes I agree that British had a big role. But over the years it’s the past students who has made Royal what it is today.

      But you are missing the main point of the post. I am not trying to support the statements made in BBC article with regard to Eton and Royal. What I criticize is the manner in which Lakbima news article is written.