Britain's Prince Edward is visiting Nashville in support of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, part of a royal charity that benefits youth and education. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NASHVILLE — Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, visited Tennessee on Thursday to promote one of the British royal family's charities, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
The prince presided over an awards ceremony at the governor's mansion for the first batch of young Tennesseans to participate in the leadership and character program.
"Most of you are — how should I put this — guinea pigs? The first ones to go through the award," the prince said. "So you're leading the way here."
About 80 youths received the award by participating in community service, skills development, physical fitness and adventurous journeys through the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, LEAD Academy, Montgomery Bell Academy or the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Organization.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a self-development program for people between the ages of 14 and 25 that aims to instill confidence and skills. More than 8 million people in more than 140 countries have participated since it was founded in 1956 by the queen's husband, Prince Philip.
"What a fantastic moment to come receive your awards here at the mansion from the governor," Prince Edward said. "Welcome to an international family. ... It's great to see Tennessee taking part in this program and supporting it so well."
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean lauded the program's aims.
"The Duke of Edinburgh's Award falls directly in line with what our goals are for the people of Nashville," he said. "Education is our No. 1 priority, but not all the skills that are needed to prepare our students for success in life can be taught in a book."
Following the event, Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam invited the awardees and their families to tea inside the governor's residence. Later on Thursday, the prince was scheduled to headline a black-tie gala at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville.