[Rebecca English | Daily Mail]

“I told her to go for it; isn’t that what the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is all about?”

It was probably one of the more surprising confessions to ever to have echoed over Westminster Abbey.

At a service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Award yesterday, Prince Edward admitted he had encouraged one participant to take up pole dancing in order to earn her badge.

In front of his mother, the Queen, and father, Prince Philip, who devised and launched the eponymous scheme back in 1956, the prince recalled how he was having lunch with a group of Gold Award participants when one girl told him she really wanted to learn pole dancing.

He told the congregation that it ‘seemed to me at the time, if that’s what this young person wanted to do, then why not?’

He continued: ‘So I told her to go for it; isn’t that what the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is all about?’

Edward went on to say that he received a letter some time later from the same girl, who did go on to learn to pole dance, thanking him for inspiring her to ‘fulfil my goal and to overcome my doubts’.

During yesterday’s diamond anniversary service of thanksgiving Edward – accompanied by his wife, Sophie, looking chic in a Bruce Oldfield dress Jane Taylor hat – also praised his father for his ‘concern for the welfare of young people and desire to encourage their development’.

But he admitted that Philip would never take the praise easily as he is ‘probably the most self-effacing and modest person I know’.

‘The few who are gathered here today in this magnificent Abbey represent the millions who want to say thank you; thank you for believing in us, encouraging us and giving us the chance to savour that sense of satisfaction through achievement,’ he said.

During the service impressionist Jon Culshaw gave a reading and Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockroft told how the award had given her ‘independence’ in using a wheelchair.

The Paralympian said the award taught her ‘not to give up’ and encouraged her to reach her potential.