Princess Beatrice on how a personal struggle inspired her life-changing new project

Princess Beatrice has a big heart and puts her all into her patronages and the causes that matter most to her. Not unlike other members of the Royal Family – like the ‘Fab Four’! – the princess has a soft spot for children’s empowerment and education. While speaking exclusively with HELLO!, she opened up about her pride and joy, the Northwood African Education Foundation, and everything her patronage has accomplished this year.

The foundation has built a school from the ground up in Ethiopia and aims to provide education to the world’s most vulnerable and poorest children. The school, St. George’s, in Azezo educates 353 local children, and the 30-year-old simply cannot wait to visit and see the wonderful successes with her own eyes. But for Sarah Ferguson’s daughter, this cause runs deeper than most.

Beatrice is a patron of the Northwood African Education Foundation

“I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was seven and as I have said before, it was a struggle at the beginning of my school career,” she told HELLO! exclusively. “It taught me the importance of great teachers and supportive parents who, above all, are ready and willing to listen to young people.” The Queen’s granddaughter was given specialized support to help with her schooling, and she’s determined to give other students the same chances she got herself.

It must be a wonderful feeling to see such progress being made in the program she supports with her far-reaching platform. “I would love to see the progress being made at the school and I’m talking to the charity about a trip,” Beatrice shared. “The results that we are seeing at St. George’s are incredibly inspiring, and it is helping the most vulnerable children in one of the poorest places in the world. I’m honoured to be involved and will do whatever I can to support the project.”

The school hopes to expand to accept 700 students

But the work doesn’t stop with just one school. Given the success of the program in Azezo, Beatrice is hoping it will grow to more communities. The results are in, and the proof is in the pudding. Academic scores from this school year at St. George’s were four times above the national average, with the average grade in all subjects over 90%. Not only is the school helping children succeed, it’s also giving back to the local economy by creating 50 local jobs that pay above the average salary. By 2022, the organization is hoping to create a secondary school with 700 children ages five to 18.

A foreword for the foundation’s annual review was penned by the princess herself, and shared first here with HELLO!: "Children have always been at the centre of the charity work that I've seen my family carry out. So, when I was asked to become involved in a project to build a beacon school to give some of the world's poorest children the sort of chance that is taken for granted elsewhere, I didn't hesitate."

She continued: "I didn't imagine for a moment that it would be as successful as it has turned out to be five years on. I'm absolutely amazed and inspired by what's being achieved. St George's School is in a part of the world where half of all children have dropped out of school by the age of eight, and children typically sit at rudimentary desks in classes of 50 or 60 for a maximum of four hours a day. At our school, they are in class sizes of 25, for six hours a day, with teachers trained to degree level and the best facilities money can buy."