Celebrities including singer Marvin Humes, actor Hugh Bonneville and tennis coach Judy Murray have joined the Earl of Wessex for a virtual Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award presentation.
The stars delivered congratulations in a collection of video messages to more than 8,000 new Gold Award holders whose ceremonies at St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Edward, in a message shared on the royal family’s social media accounts, told the young people they should “feel justifiably proud of what you’ve achieved”.
He added: “As some of you are aware, we regrettably had to cancel the Gold Award ceremonies at St James’s Palace in the middle of March, and now we’ve lost the ones planned for Buckingham Palace in May – for which I’m very sorry.
“However, I can assure you we will do everything we can to reschedule as soon as the time is right.
Congratulations to the 12,468 incredible young people who have achieved their @DofE Gold Award in the last year.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 15, 2020
Although the official Award ceremonies couldnât go ahead this spring, we hope you take a moment to celebrate. 🙌🎉
The Earl of Wessex sends a message to you all. â¤µï¸ pic.twitter.com/t2My6uFgdx
“In the meantime, I and a few others wanted to congratulate you on achieving your Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.”
Other stars in the video included presenters Chris Tarrant and Gaby Roslin, and actors Larry Lamb and Iain Glen.
The celebrities were due to be guest presenters at the award ceremonies this spring.
Edward, the youngest son of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, joked about the gruelling challenges of the Gold Award, saying: “There were probably times when you were doing it when you were wondering ‘Why?’, and, if it was anything like mine, it was probably halfway through the expedition.”
He added: “I know that lots of you are out there using your volunteering skills and life experiences to contribute to efforts in your local communities, especially supporting the vulnerable and the isolated. Thank you so much.”
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “For the almost 8,000 young people who were due to be welcomed by the earl at the official presentation ceremonies at St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace this spring, it is hoped that the videos will provide a chance for them to celebrate their brilliant achievement virtually, at this challenging time.”
Edward’s father Philip set up The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 1956.
It has become one of the country’s best-known youth self-improvement schemes for 14 to 24-year-olds.
More than six million people across the globe have taken part to try to gain their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
The earl has been a UK Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award since 1988.
In 2019-2020, 12,468 young people achieved their DofE Gold Award, with almost 10,000 attending Gold Award presentations in London, Edinburgh and Northern Ireland.