Edward’s ‘festival-style’ celebration in Palace garden for 12,000 young people

Festival-style celebrations for 12,000 young people will be held in the Buckingham Palace garden next week.

The Earl of Wessex will host four celebratory events over two days for new Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holders – the first time their achievements have been formally recognised since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Edward, trustee of the youth scheme set up by his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh, will be joined by stars including Strictly Come Dancing’s Johannes Radebe during the first celebration on Monday.

Buckingham Palace garden opening
The lawn at Buckingham Palace (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

TV explorer Ben Fogle, actress Nina Wadia, and entrepreneur and former Apprentice winner Tim Campbell – who are all award holders – will be among those giving talks on satellite stages around the garden.

Edward, the Queen and Philip’s youngest son, will meet Gold Award holders who have shown creativity, resilience and determination to achieve their awards despite challenges and restrictions during the Covid-19 crisis.

Buckingham Palace said the special events on May 16 and May 20 will see the gardens of the Queen’s official residence “transformed into a festival-style celebration” with the guests having the chance to “take part in a range of lawn games and activities”.

At the start of each event, guests will be invited to gather around the West Terrace Steps for the National Anthem and to hear a series of speeches from inspirational individuals and DofE alumni.

Strictly star Johannes Radebe will join Edward for the celebration
Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe will join Edward for the celebration (Ian West/PA)

More than 330,000 young people worked towards their DofE Awards during the first year of the pandemic, and volunteered more than 1.8 million hours in their communities, often helping the Covid relief effort.

The DofE self-development and adventure award scheme is open to any young person aged 14-24.

Those taking part build their own programme – picking activities and choosing which cause to volunteer for – in order to achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Award.

Gold Award ceremonies at the Palace had to be postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the spread of coronavirus.