The Duke of Edinburgh's Award

This article is about awards. For the episode of The Inbetweeners titled "The Duke of Edinburgh Awards", see List of The Inbetweeners episodes § ep11.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
Date 1956
Country United Kingdom and others
Reward(s) Gold, Silver or Bronze (UK)
Official website

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award (commonly abbreviated DofE),[1] is the generic name for a youth awards programme founded in the United Kingdom in 1956 by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, that has since expanded to 144 nations. The awards recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement exercises modelled on Kurt Hahn's solution to the "Six Declines of Modern Youth."

In the United Kingdom the programme is run by The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, a royal charter corporation. A separate entity, The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation, promotes the award abroad and acts as a coordinating body for award sponsors in other nations, which are organised into 62 National Award Authorities and a number of Independent Operators. Award sponsors in countries outside the United Kingdom may title their awards Duke of Edinburgh's Awards, though the recognition also operates under a variety of other names in countries without a historic link to the British monarchy, or that have severed such links.


In February 1956, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award was first announced.[2] It was at first "for boys" aged 15 to 18. It was first administered, and largely designed, by John Hunt, who had led the first successful climb of Everest in 1953, and had retired from the army to run The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. It was designed to attract boys who had not been interested in joining one of the main British youth movements, such as the Scout Association. It was not necessary to 'join' any organisation, or wear a uniform to participate. In the first 12 months, 7,000 boys had enrolled for the scheme. The programme borrowed from the Moray Badge, instituted at Gordonstoun School by its headmaster, Kurt Hahn, in 1936, and the County Badge adopted in Moray in 1941.[3]

In November 1957 it was announced that girls would be invited to participate. On 19 June 1958 the Award was extended to girls, with the first girls allowed to join from 1 September 1958.[4] The programme for girls was not the same as that for boys, and was for ages 14 to 20. The first girls received their Gold Awards on 3 November 1959 at Buckingham Palace. From January 1965, the Gold Award for boys and girls was made more similar.

The first Gold Awards were achieved in 1958, and the charity was established in 1959. A single programme for young people aged 14 to 21 was launched in 1969, and extended to those up to 25 years of age in 1980.

In 2013, the Duke presented Awards at St James's Palace which included his 500th Gold Award Presentation.[5]

United Kingdom

A Duke of Edinburgh group on their expedition, 2008

The first Duke of Edinburgh's Award ceremony was held in the United Kingdom in 1956.

Participation in DofE programmes and the number of awards achieved has grown every year since 1956. As of 2013, roughly 300,000 young people were taking part in Duke of Edinburgh's Award programmes run in more than 11,000 designated award centres – including schools, youth clubs and businesses – throughout the UK. Over 5 million young people in the UK have taken part in the DofE in the UK since 1956 (8 million worldwide).[6] The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a member of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS).[7]

In 2009, the old system of keeping track of progress through paper Record Books was replaced by the introduction of a major new online system – eDofE. Participants use this system to track their progress, while Leaders use it to oversee participants' progress.[8]

Award programmes

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award programmes take between one and four years to complete, and they must be completed by the participant's twenty-fifth birthday. There are around 300,000 participants annually. The programmes are at three progressive levels which, if successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

With assistance from adult Leaders, participants select and set objectives in each of the following areas:

To achieve an award, the participant must work on each section for a minimum period of time, and must be monitored and assessed by someone with knowledge of the chosen activities. Each progressive level demands more time and commitment from participants: Bronze 3–6 months; Silver: 6–9 months; Gold: 12–18 months. Participants are required to show regular activity and commitment to the award for the duration of their DofE programme, which is usually at least one hour per week.[9]

Joint Award Initiative

In Northern Ireland participants completing The Duke of Edinburgh's Award can choose to accept a certificate from the Gaisce or an International Award Certificate instead of a Duke of Edinburgh certificate.[10][11]

Other nations

Awards modelled on The Duke of Edinburgh's Award are presented by sponsoring organisations affiliated with the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Association in 144 nations: 29 located in the Americas; 36 in Africa; 32 in Asian pacific countries; and 47 in Europe, around the Mediterranean, and in Arab countries. The prestige, scope and awareness of these awards vary from country to country and often – unlike awards programmes in Ireland and the United Kingdom – there is no connection to the head of state and awards are simply issued by private youth charities. In the United States, for instance, only about 7,000[12] of the estimated 47 million eligible persons age 14 to 24[13] annually participate in the programme.


The Award was established in Australia in 1959 on the initiative of Sir Adrien Curlewis in 1958. By 2015 the Award was available in all state and territories and today over 24,000 young Australians undertake a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award each year.[14] The Awards programme came under scrutiny in 2009 after schoolchild David Iredale died of dehydration on an unsupervised hike in the Blue Mountains that he believed would be credited as part of his Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme. Asked how tragedy would affect the award, the Duke of Edinburgh's son Prince Edward recalled another death during the early history of the award and had energised interest among young people, who were – according to Edward – interested because, "you could die doing this."[15] Australian commentators declared Edward's comments were "crass" and "insensitive" and Iredale's mother said the award programme suffered from "serious shortcomings."[16]

The National Chairman is currently Shane Stone, and the National CEO is Peter Kaye.


The first Duke of Edinburgh's Award ceremony in Canada was held in 1964. As of 2011, approximately 500,000 Canadians had received the award over the programme's 57-year history.[17] In 2013, the Royal Bank of Canada announced a $1 million grant to help fund marketing and publicity efforts to increase awareness for the programme.[18]

Hong Kong


India awards the "International Award for Young People" to youth who complete a self-improvement programme based on the Duke of Edinburgh's award model. The programme was first introduced to India in 1962 and was originally operated by the Indian Public Schools Conference. In 1989 the Award Programme Foundation, a registered charity, was established to oversee management of the award. According to the Award Programme Foundation, implementation of awards are undertaken by 154 local institutions, including governments, NGOs and universities. Despite the long history of the programme in India, only about 19,000 youth annually participate. As in many other nations, awards in India are granted in three levels – gold, silver and bronze – based on the complexity and time commitment of the projects undertaken by the individual award participant.[19]


Gaisce – The President's Award

"Gaisce – The President's Award"(Irish: Gaisce – Gradam an Uachtaráin) was established by a trust deed under the patronage of the President of Ireland on 28 March 1985. It joined the Duke of Edinburgh's International Awards Association in 1988. There are three awards: bronze, silver and gold.[20] The profile of the award was raised substantially during the term of Mary Robinson.


The award was established in Korea in 2008 by Korea Youth Services Centre. The award is currently supported under The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, which is an organization organized by the government. The applicants have to be in an age in between 14 and 25. Anyone who is over 14 year old but under 25 years old can challenge for the bronze award, but the applicants have to be at least 15 year old to start the silver medal, as well as the gold medal starts from 16 year old. Despite the fact that there have been less than 10 gold medal winners in 8 years, there has been an exponential increase of the number of applicants in Korea. It reached its peak in 2011, which recorded 3500 applicants and there are over 6000 young people, who have completed their Awards by 2015. Also, there are 17 organizations or associations that are supporting the award.[21]


"The Prince Mohato Award" was established in 1976. Its current patron is King Letsie III.[22] As with other nations, the award is presented in three levels and eligible youth are those age 14 to 25. The chairperson of the awards program is Maureen Nyathi.[23]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, although one or two organisations started taking part earlier, it was not until 18 July 1963 that the Governor-General, Sir Bernard Fergusson, held the inaugural meeting of the National Council of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in New Zealand at Government House in Wellington, when a Constitution for The Award in New Zealand was adopted.[24]

In New Zealand the Award is referred to as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award. The name draws on one of New Zealanders greatest adventures Sir Edmund Hillary. The Award has also previously been called in ‘The Young New Zealanders Challenge of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award’. As at 2015 there 9,000 registrations annually and approximately 18,500 young people engaged at any one time in the Award in New Zealand.


In Singapore, the award is referred to as "National Youth Achievement Award". It is a Full Member of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Association and was officially launched in Singapore on 9 May 1992 by H.E. President Late Wee Kim Wee at the Istana.[25][26]

South Africa

In South Africa, the Award is referred to as The President's Award for Youth Empowerment. The Award was first established in 1983 under the name The Gold Shield Award, but in 1992, in anticipation of Mr Nelson Mandela becoming the first president of a democratic South Africa, the name was changed to The President's Award for Youth Empowerment.

In its 33-year history of youth engagement in South Africa, the Award Programme has reached over 150,000 young people in the country. The President's Award has a full licence to operate the Award in South Africa, from the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation, which oversees Award Programmes in over 140 countries globally, with 25 of these being in Africa.

There are over 14,300 active participants in South Africa (2014) and the Award Programme is currently being used by over 250 Award Units nationally (community youth groups, residential youth facilities, schools and correctional centres) as a workable framework for youth empowerment. It is being increasingly sought to provide a framework for youth-at-risk, providing them with a positive, affirming alternative to the social challenges which they face within their communities. The Award Programme is not a once off intervention but is a longer term process, taking between 3 and 5 years to complete all three levels of Bronze, Silver, and Gold.


"The Prince Makhosini Award" has, according to award organisers, processed 106 young people through the programme since it was reinstated in 2007.[27]


"The Duke of Edinburgh International Award", "The International Youth Award", or simply "The International Award" was founded in Zambia in 1989. Although the concept of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was introduced to Zambia in September 1981, it was only in 1989 when the Zambian government decided to integrate it into the President’s Youth Award of Zambia in existence at the time. In 1990, a National Youth Award Committee was elected and operated under the National Youth Development Council (NYDC). In May 1991, a pilot project started with 50 young individuals and by December the same year 30 had qualified for the Bronze Award level. At the 4th Forum held in November 1991 in Hong Kong, Zambia was given a provisional membership of the International Award Association.

In 1992, the National Youth Award Committee decided to change the name of the programme in Zambia from President’s Youth Award to National Youth Award Association to avoid possible political misunderstanding. In the mid-1990s, the Award got a new lease of life when private schools began to adopt the Award, reporting directly to the International Secretariat in London in the absence of a National Award Authority. At this point, slight name variations arose in different private schools depending on organizers however the integrity of the award is still maintained.[28]

See also


  1. "The Duke of Edinburgh's Award – The DofE in the UK". The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  2. "Patron – the DofE". The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
  3. "History | The Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  4. "The Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Archived from the original on 18 February 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  5. "500th Gold Award Presentation". The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  6. "DofE statistics". The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  7. "National Council for Voluntary Youth Services".
  8. "eDofE".
  9. "How long will it take me? – The Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  10. "Joint Award Initiative – the DofE". The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  11. "The President's Award, Ireland – Gaisce Joint Award Initiative". Gaisce the President's Award. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  12. "Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Duke of Edinburgh's Award. 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  13. "Population estimates and projections for 14- to 24-year-olds, by age group and race/ethnicity: Selected years, 2005 through 2025". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  14. "Dukeofed". Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  15. "Death boosted Duke of Edinburgh Award - Prince Edward". 30 October 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  16. "Just like his dad: Prince Edward says death of schoolboy doing Duke of Edinburgh Award 'could boost scheme's popularity'". Daily Mail. London. 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  17. Tidridge, Nathan (2011). Canada's Constitutional Monarchy. Dundurn.
  18. "The Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  19. "The Award in India". The International Award for Young People. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  20. "Ireland | The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award". The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  22. Mcinca, Tepisco (22 May 2003). "King Letsie III Presents Prince Mohato Awards to 14 Recipients". AllAfrica. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  23. "His Majesty Presents Prince Mohato Award to Youth". Government of Lesotho. LENA. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  24. "History of the Award".
  26. "National Youth Achievement Award".
  27. "Prince Makhosini Award". Manzini Youth Care. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  28. "The Duke of Edinburgh International Award". The Best of Zambia. Retrieved 4 May 2015.

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