Marcos Jr. administration

Marcos the party-going schoolboy returns to UK as King’s VIP

Lian Buan

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Marcos the party-going schoolboy returns to UK as King’s VIP

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. discusses 'the modernization of the US-Philippines alliance,' during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, U.S., May 4, 2023.

REUTERS/Nathan Howard

'He left his heart here,' says Philippine Ambassador to the UK Teddyboy Locsin of President Marcos whose London trip is his 12th foreign travel in one year

LONDON, United Kingdom – In the late ’70s, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr left the United Kingdom, where he spent his high school and college years, with a flunked record in Oxford University. But on Friday, May 5, he lands in London as a head of state and among the invited VIPs to the coronation of King Charles.

Marcos, his first lady Louise Araneta Marcos and “a very small party,” will land at the Gatwick airport at an undisclosed time Friday just in time for the Philippine president to attend the reception for the VIPs at the Buckingham Palace the same day. Marcos is flying in from Washington DC where he met with US President Joe Biden, who himself was also invited but will be skipping the coronation. Marcos is heading out straight after the coronation weekend to attend the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia.

Sa palagay ko, dahil magkakilala kami, eh dapat magkapag-attend ako (Since we know each other, I should be there),” Marcos told reporters before he left DC to fly to London. The jet-setting Marcos has had 12 foreign trips since becoming president, the Indonesia summit will be his 13th. Philippine Ambassador to the UK Teddyboy Locsin said, “He doesn’t travel so much, he travels because he needs to.”

Besides, said Locsin, “he left his heart here.”

The party-going British schoolboy

Marcos spent 8 years in the United Kingdom in the ’70s as a proper posh schoolboy. He attended Worth, a private boarding school for boys (it became co-ed recently) outside London from 1970 to 1974. During his high school years at Worth, his father the former president Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines and began a 20-year dictatorship of the country marked by gross human rights violations and corruption.

In 1975, Marcos began reading for his college degree at the prestigious Oxford University, one of the world’s best universities that has produced leaders both good and bad. Rappler has repeatedly confirmed through the years that Marcos was not able to finish his Oxford degree, but was instead given what is called a “special diploma,” a credential that was attainable even by non-Oxford students.

Cables obtained by the University of the Philippines’ Third World Studies Center reveal that Marcos flunked his exams for his Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) degree not once but twice. Throughout this, Phillippine diplomats in the UK were exerting all their efforts negotiating with Oxford. In the end, they applied for a mitigating circumstance, a British education system of submitting justifications why you deserve an extension. The Philippine diplomats cited Marcos “asthma complicated by flu..exacerbated by the long and exhaustring trips back to London from Manila…and the adverse psychological effects on him after visiting devastated areas in Mindanao after the earthquake and tidal wave.”

Oxford “departed from its normal rule” of kicking out students who had flunked their exams, and instead allowed Marcos to take exams for a special diploma where he “obtained a reasonable class II level.” The South China Morning Post reported that during this time, after being informed of his flunking, Marcos “went out and gate-crashed a college party,” which was, for the would-be president, “a wild night ending with Bongbong’s Mercedes 450SL sports car crashing into a wall of historic All Souls,” said the reports as quoted by the book Marcos Lies published by the UP Third World Studies Center. Marcos’ partying continued in the Philippines when he returned there in the early ’80s as vice governor and then governor of Ilocos Norte.

Marcos then left the United Kingdom supposedly to take an MBA at the Wharton School in Pennyslvania. Wharton also has confirmed to Rappler he never finished his postgraduate degree there. It’s still unclear why Marcos was able to enrol at an MBA without an undergraduate degree, but the book Marcos Lies obtained letters from rich Filipino businessmen offering the dictator help with his son’s application to Wharton “and personally handle the submission to the right offices/people.”

Must Read

King Charles settles into life as monarch, after long wait

King Charles settles into life as monarch, after long wait
The King’s VIP

The invitation from the Palace as among the carefully-selected 2,000 or so VIPs, among them 100 heads of state, is a radical improvement from when Marcos first met a British monarch. Cables from the British foreign office released in 2001, and reported by ABC News, reveal how diplomats cringed at former first lady Imelda Marcos’ request to have an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in 1970. Imelda was taking her son Bongbong to Worth, and she wanted for not only her, but also her son, to meet the Queen. The audience happened, with diplomats noting that “this has never been done before and I cannot understand why it has been allowed in this case.” 

On Friday, Marcos Jr would be going to the Buckingham Palace without any strong-arm tactics. He and his wife, who herself comes from the affluent Araneta clan, will be mingling with the world’s royals and other world leaders on an exclusive invitation. Locsin was unable to say if any of Marcos’ three sons, who were also all educated in the United Kingdom, were coming with him to London.

In January amid criticisms on his travel, Marcos said he would soon cut back on his trips and explained that they were just to introduce the new Philippine government to the world. But after saying that, he went to Japan in February, and this month he had three trips: the United States, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia.

“He had to be here, every visit he’s made has been important,” said Locsin. Marcos Jr. himself has said each trip would have a return of investment, and promised to make a public accounting soon.

It’s unclear what he would be taking away from the coronation that would benefit the Filipino people. Charles’ coronation, another display of the the British royals’ pomp and pageantry, is being questioned by some of the British public for its excesses especially amid record-high inflations and unprecedented strikes across all sectors in Britain including doctors.

Marcos confirmed he will meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak while in London, but said it will be a “very casual” meeting that might just be a chat on the sidelines of coronation events. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Face, Happy, Head


Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.