So, what did you do on your holidays?
A group of Eton schoolboys, who have only recently graduated from the elite British school, have a pretty good answer to that eternal question after being granted an exclusive two-hour audience with Vladimir Putin.
In the deeply competitive world of privileged vacationing, this will take some beating.
The boys posted formal pictures of the meeting—to which they were wearing the famous ‘O.E.’ (Old Etonian) tie to accompany their translator headsets—on Facebook, as well as some other more jocular shots of them lounging around in another Kremlin room.
The studied informality of the pictures have a look which will be instantly recognizable to former Eton inmates as typical of the style of photos often requested by smaller groups of boys, such as sports teams and other societies.
One of the boys posted the caption, “Chilling with Vlad the Lad,” to accompany the pictures taken as a memento of their visit.
British media have noted that the boys received an audience with Putin although Theresa May, the new British prime minister, has not yet been received by him.
A spokesperson for Eton College was not available for comment, however it is believed that as the boys are no longer studying at the school, the school would have had no issue or involvement with the visit.
Another old boy, David Wei, who claimed to have organized the trip to “improve relations between the West and Russia”, said on his Facebook page: “It took me a total of ten months, 1040 emails, 1000 text messages, countless sleepless nights, constant paranoia during A2 exam season, declining academic performance… but here we are. Guys, we truly gave Putin a deep impression of us and he responded by showing us his human face.”
Another of the boys, Trenton Bricken, was a prize-winning essayist and captain of his house at Eton. He is enrolled to attend Duke University in the U.S. this year, as a scholar on the Robertson Program.
On his profile page for the program he writes, that while at Eton, where fees run to around $50,000 per annum, he created a “real money high school investment club,” which had a portfolio of £20,000.
“The Investment Club gave me the passion to further pursue entrepreneurship, leadership and social impact,” he writes.
A message requesting comment from Bricken on his Russian trip was made via the Robertson program, but he did not reply immediately.
Another of the boys, Marc Woernle, 18, wrote: “We had an incredible time, and thank you so much to the people who made this happen.”
He thanked a Russian churchman, Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov, who is famous in Russia for being Putin’s confessor, for helping put the trip together. The bishop is believed to have visited Eton earlier this year to speak to one of the school’s many debating societies.
A source close to the boys told The Sun: “They didn’t tell anyone they were going. I would assume it was so the school didn’t find out because I don’t think they would be happy.
“From what I understand, they were talking to him about Eton because he had a keen interest in the college, mainly due to previous politicians in the UK who had attended.”
David Cameron, the former prime minister, and Boris Johnson, the current foreign secretary, are both Old Etonians. Cameron is just one of 19 old boys to have held the top job in British politics.