'Fun-loving' Eton College schoolboy dies after collapsing on playing fields

Raphaël pictured with the house team he captained on March 14, two days before his death (Eton College)
Raphaël pictured with the house team he captained on March 14, two days before his death (Eton College)

A 17-year-old Eton College schoolboy has died after collapsing while playing a sports match at the prestigious Windsor school.

Raphaël Pryor was playing the Field Game - the school’s centuries-old variation on football - on Saturday morning when he collapsed.

Onlookers rushed to the Year 13 pupil’s aid and performed CPR while ambulances were called to the school.

Medics reportedly fought to save his life, but he was declared dead at the scene.

Raphaël’s father, also an Etonian, was playing the Field Game on an adjacent pitch when the boy collapsed.

The sixth form pupil has been remembered as “an outstanding young man who lived with joy in his heart” - a keen athlete who led his boarding house in sports.

A photo taken just two days before Raphaël’s death, shared by the school, showed him smiling and holding a trophy, with the house team he captained and had led to victory in an internal school competition.

His parents Michael Pryor and Sabine Vandenbroucke said they are “devastated by the tragic death of their beautiful and only child”.

They wrote in a statement released on Tuesday: “We take comfort from the fact that he was doing what he loved, he knew he was loved, and he was surrounded by friends. The last words he heard from his father on the touchline were, ‘Well played Raphy’.

“He was enthusiastic, empathetic, quick-witted, funny, and kind. He was a fascinating bilingualfusion of his Belgian and English origins.

“As the many wonderful messages we have received show, Raphaël was hitting his stride as adulthood approached, a much-loved and respected leader on the sporting field and within the community of his boys house.

“He brought a fast-growing emotional intelligence to everything he did. He even surprised us by excelling in a leading role in a play last Autumn.

“He was an excellent fisherman and skier, adored by those who taught him. He also loved History. He was to spend the winter as a ski instructor and hoped to read French and History at university, connecting his roots with his passion.

“It is desperate to be so cruelly deprived of what we hoped would be a wonderful future, but we are so grateful to have participated in a life full of love and happiness, friendship, and memories thatwill never be forgotten. Raphaël made us better people and we will miss him so.”

 (Eton College)
(Eton College)

Head teacher Simon Henderson said: “Raphaël was an outstanding young man who lived with joy in his heart, sharing it widely and powerfully.

“He had the brightest of futures ahead of him. In his life at Eton Raphaël brought so much to his friends and to those who taught and cared for him, including to those who played with and against him on the games field, where he excelled as one of the House Captains of Games.

“The whole Eton community is deeply saddened and shocked by this news. As we mourn his tragic death, our hearts go out to Raphaël’s parents, his family and his friends.”

Mr Henderson sent a letter out to Eton parents informing them about the death.

The boarding school, where fees are £50,000 a year, has lowered its flags to half-mast following his death.

He called Raphaël “permanently fun-loving and hugely popular with all who knew him”.

Raphaël’s House Master Joe Dangerfield, has said “he lived with joy in his heart, sharing it widely and powerfully”.

Specialist support is being provided to both pupils and staff by on-site counsellors.

The Field Game is a type of football played at Eton College. It is much like football, but with no goalkeepers and different goal-scoring rules. It also features off-side rules and the use of scrums that are more akin to elements of rugby.Founded in 1440, Eton College is among the world’s most well-known and prestigious schools, and caters for boys aged 13 to 18.

It counts among its alumni princes William and Harry, former prime ministers Boris Johnson and David Cameron, actors Damian Lewis, Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Eddie Redmayne, and authors George Orwell and Ian Fleming.