The Earl of Wessex found a unique way to congratulate 12,468 young people who have achieved their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award in the last year, after the official presentation ceremonies at St James's Palace and Buckingham Palace were cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Prince Edward enlisted the help of some famous faces to celebrate their achievements in a 'virtual' Gold Award presentation on the royal family's social media accounts, including Marvin Humes and Strictly Come Dancing stars, Janette Manrara and Aljaž Škorjanec.
WATCH: Celebrities congratulate Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award winners
READ: Inside Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex's royal residence, Bagshot Park
The video montage opened with an introduction from Marvin, who is set to welcome his third child with wife, Rochelle Humes, in October 2020. Strictly couple Janette and Aljaž wished the Gold Award holders congratulations from their home with an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Larry Lamb, Gaby Roslin and Adam Hills were among the other stars to appear in the virtual presentation.
Before handing over to the guest presenters, Prince Edward said he was "really heartened by the fantastic stories" he'd been hearing about how participants were actively making a difference under these challenging circumstances.
The dad-of-two 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.
"I hope this collection of films will help boost your morale and show you how much people admire your resilience, as well as giving you just a little insight into that band of Gold Award holders that you have just become a part of."
MORE: The Countess of Wessex makes surprising outing in mask and gloves to help homeless people during coronavirus outbreak
Prince Edward receiving his DofE Gold Award in 1986 from Prince Philip
In 2019/20, 12,468 young people achieved their DofE Gold Award, with almost 10,000 attending a Gold Award presentation in London, Edinburgh or Northern Ireland. At these presentation ceremonies at royal residences, award holders and their families are normally welcomed and hosted by a member of the royal family, before collecting their certificates from special guest presenters. The ceremonies act as a formal recognition of their achievement.
Young people due to attend ceremonies this spring will be invited to attend a different ceremony in due course. The Earl has been a UK Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award since 1988 and himself holds a DofE Gold Award.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex have remained at their Surrey home, Bagshot Park, with their children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, during the UK lockdown against coronavirus.
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