A 19-year-old Kiwi has had a rare encounter with royalty in London after achieving a prestigious award.

Aucklander Georgia Kirschberg met Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, at St James's Palace where she was presented with her gold Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award.

Typically New Zealand recipients are given their awards by the governor-general, but the teen was in England for a year of overseas study so joined the London ceremony, where she was the only Kiwi to take part.

After receiving her award from Prince Edward, Ms Kirschberg chatted to him about what she had done to get the award, her gap year at Royal High School in Bath and what she would be doing when she returned to New Zealand.


"He was really nice and he seemed to have a good personality, he was warm," she said.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the award programme which challenges people aged over 14 to complete personal challenges in areas such as physical, problem solving, service and team skills.

To earn her gold award, Ms Kirschberg played hockey, learnt Italian, coached water polo, volunteered at Waikato Hospice and went on a four-day expedition to Cape Reinga.