The Duke of Edinburgh Award: a few facts

The Duke of Edinburgh, husband of the Queen, was 95 this year.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DoE), set up by the Duke in 1956, is 60 years old this year.

The DoE is the world’s leading youth achievement award, giving millions of 14 to 24-year-olds the opportunity to be the very best they can be.

Over 5 million young people in the UK have taken part in the DofE in the UK since 1956 (8 million worldwide).


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 (3-6 months), Silver (6-9 months) or Gold (12-18 months).

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

  • Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or the community.
  • Physical: improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness activities.
  • Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests.
  • Expedition: planning, training for and completion of an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad.

At Gold level, participants must do an additional fifth residential section, which involves staying and working away from home for five days, doing a shared activity.


School Britannia talked to Billy, who completed his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award whilst at boarding school.

“I started with DofE Silver when I was in my second year at boarding school. The break up of categories between sports, skills and volunteering allowed me much needed structure: I became much more engaged and committed to learning the art of karate as well as volunteering to help out with an elderly woman’s gardening. Moving on to Gold, my commitment to tennis and karate only intensified, allowing me to achieve my purple belt as well as breaking into the 1st Tennis team. I also volunteered for a year for a school scheme helping disabled children”.

“In the Gold Award, there is also a one week residential section which is designed to further the will to go out of your comfort zone and do something productive away from home. I took part in a tennis camp in Dusseldorf that both improved my skills as well as my German; a great experience. It encourages people go out into the world”.


“I had a lot of fun, especially thanks to the most important section on DofE: the expedition. For Gold, it lasts 5 days. Students chose their own route through the British countryside and go hiking and camping with almost no supervision. You learn compas skills, map reading, and – most of all – teamwork”.

“Some of my best memories include the beautiful views during an expedition at dawn before a long day of walking, as well as playing tennis for the team as first player, an achievement I wouldn’t have reached if not for the structure of the award. However, there was one point when an expedition was so damp that I got a condition that I can only describe as first stage trench foot; it recovered surprisingly fast, so no worries”.


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