The annual award recognises an individual or group that has had a major impact on the UK's musical life. It is the first time the award has been given to an organisation. Previous recipients have included oboist and conductor Nicholas Daniel, Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel and soprano Dame Emma Kirkby.
The Queen presented the award to members of the NYO during a London Symphony Orchestra gala concert at The Barbican.
First violin Robbie Ruisi said being presented with the award was "such a thrill".
"Passion is a word too often flung around in society today, but NYO seems to me one of the most passionate organisations in Britain, driven by its teenage musicians' utter love for music."
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the master of the Queen's music, who chairs the award's nomination committee, said the orchestra was a "worthy and deserving recipient".
"This award celebrates the overwhelmingly positive influence the NYO has had on the musical world as the standard-bearer for youth orchestras, both at home and abroad."
The NYO was established in 1948 by Dame Ruth Railton as a national platform to champion the development of British teenagers.
Each year, the orchestra recruits 165 of the best teenage musicians between the ages of 13 tand 19 through an audition process focused on talent and ambition for greatness, rather than individuals' backgrounds.
Some former NYO graduates include Sir Simon Rattle and composer and former BBC Young Musician of the Year, Mark Simpson.
National Youth Orchestra awarded
Medal for Music * 6 December 2012
26 JANUARY 2012, ENTERTAINMENT & ARTS
16 JULY 2012, ENTERTAINMENT & ARTS
18 OCTOBER 2011, STOKE & STAFFORDSHIRE
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