Gordonstoun’s motto is Plus est en Vous (There is more in you than you think). One can easily say a motto was paramount in how The Duke of Edinburgh lived his life and inspired others.
Gordonstoun was established in 1934 by Dr. Kurt Hahn, a progressive German educator. The school is located in Morayshire, Scotland,
One of Dr. Hahn’s founding pupils was the 13 year old Prince Philip who would spend five years at the Scottish school.
The Duke of Edinburgh would go on to send Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward to Gordonstoun as well. At the time, Princess Anne who likely would have been keen to attend was not able as it was a boys only school. Anne would eventually send her son Peter and daughter Zara there as the school became coeducational in 1968.
Hahn set up Gordonstoun to continue his work in Germany at his first school, Salem. The school was close to Schloss Salem, the home of Margrave von Baden and his wife Theodora, Prince Philip’s sister. Salem’s goal was to combine character-building with academic excellence, with students emphasizing the importance of identifying their personal strengths.
By the 1930s, it had become one of the world’s premier private schools. When Philip left Cheam, his preparatory school, in 1933, Salem was chosen for him. By the time he arrived, Hahn had run afoul with the Nazis due to his opposition to their policies. He was imprisoned and only released when British Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald intervened and secured his release. He fled to Great Britain, where Gordonstoun would soon be born.
Located in the Scottish Highlands, Gordonstoun has upheld the principles on which it was founded, encouraging pupils to explore their abilities in a wide variety of fields, with a strong emphasis on outdoor activities.
The Duke of Edinburgh spent five years there. He was active in outdoor activities developing particular sailing skills, becoming a ‘Guardian’ (head boy) and captaining the hockey and cricket teams.
In some of the recently published report cards for Prince Philip, Dr Hahn noted that the young Prince “had grown impatient of what for short may be called Royalty nonsense. After matches and theatrical performances, people often asked him for an autograph. He found this ridiculous and on one occasion signed himself “The Earl of Baldwin”, to the bewilderment of the autograph-hunter.’ Even at a young age, The future Duke of Edinburgh was cheeky!
In 1934 Dr Hahn was behind the Moray Badge, later the County Badge Scheme at Gordonstoun that inspired Prince Philip to create The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. He began an originating committee in 1954 that lasted two years before officially kicking off the scheme in 1956, with HRH as the patron.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is an award scheme in which young people can participate in challenging activities, learn new skills, make friends and gain confidence in the process. There are three levels of the award: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each level consists of four sections: volunteering, expeditions, skills and physical recreation.
In 2013, The Duke of Edinburgh presented his 500th Gold Award presentation at St James’s Palace.
Since earning his own Gold Award in 1986, Edward has been involved with the award. In 1987 Prince Edward became a UK Trustee of the charity and its International Award Association. He became Chairman of the Trustees of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation in 2015.
The award scheme continues to this day, with The Earl and Countess of Wessex being heavily involved.
One can easily assume that Edward and Sophie will continue to promote the Duke of Edinburgh Award both home and abroad. Those are mighty shoes to fill, but Edward and Sophie’s past dedication to the Duke of Edinburgh Award can assure all that they will continue Prince Philip’s vision for years to come.