According to BBC, Prince Philip’s idea of a national youth program was based on his own experience in Gordonstoun, a private school in Scotland. The school promoted a healthy lifestyle based on physical activity and personal growth. Consulting his former headmaster Kurt Hahn and the minister of education, he developed a concept of a voluntary organization which targeted boys. The award would promote involvement in community work, sports, and different activities. The Duke of Edinburgh wanted to inspire others to be better: “If you can get a young person to succeed in any one activity, then that feeling of success will spread over into many others.”

As per The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award official web page, the testing phase of the project was rolled out in 1956, covering “Rescue and Public Service, Expeditions, Pursuits and Projects, and fitness” in young men’s lives. The pilot scheme quickly expanded to different institutions, such as the Royal Army, Navy, and Air Force, along with a number of schools in the United Kingdom. In the later years, it became international as well, enabling youth to travel overseas. In 2020, 330,000 young people participated in the program, spending over 1.8 million hours volunteering in their communities.

The youngsters can be awarded with bronze, silver, and gold medals. The ones who receive the golden medals are invited to attend a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Until Prince Philip’s retirement in 2017, they were able to meet him in person.