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Prince Philip enjoys 'very witty' chat with DofE award group in Northern Ireland

The Duke of Edinburgh was in jovial form as he visited Northern Ireland officially for perhaps the last time.

Prince Philip met Duke of Edinburgh gold award achievers during a ceremony at the ornate Hillsborough Castle in Co Down.

He is retiring from royal duties this autumn, Buckingham Palace has said.

The prince joked with young people from across the country who had gathered in the opulent Throne Room about their experiences earning the recognition.

He asked: "Did you all walk? You all got lost did you?"

He met a proud parent who was clutching what appeared to be an oxygen bottle.

The Prince quipped: "Are you safe with that thing?"

The Duke strolled along a line of excited and slightly awestruck recipients.

He said: "They all used to turn up in uniform."

One teenager resplendent in the blue shirt and tie of the Boy's Brigade with his badges on display was the exception.

Jonathan Boyd, 18, from Antrim, said: "I said I was the only one from the Boy's Brigade in uniform.

"It was a lovely day, the Duke himself was very witty in his walk through."

Certificates were presented by Northern Irish singer Peter Corry.

He said: "The harder you work for something, the more satisfaction you get when you actually achieve it."

Megan Dobson, 19, from Donaghadee in Co Down, did her gold award in the Antrim Hills near Belfast.

She said it was the first time she had met a member of the royal family.

"It was a brilliant experience," she said.

"It was amazing when we arrived and we were told we were getting the award by the actual Duke of Edinburgh, it was a great feeling.

"He was very chatty, very witty, it was just great to meet him."

The young people received the recognition after volunteering in their community, learning a skill, getting fit, going on an expedition and taking part in a week-long residential.

Six leaders from across Northern Ireland took part in a special reception for their work with young people.

In Northern Ireland 8,500 young people start Bronze, Silver or Gold programmes each year and around 25,000 are actively working on their programmes at any one time.

The Duke has presented over 1,500 gold awards at 21 ceremonies in Northern Ireland. Most have taken place at Hillsborough Castle.

Director of the award in Northern Ireland Kate Thompson said: "Young people doing their DofE are encouraged to push themselves outside of their comfort zones and the skills that they develop can be life-changing."

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