Prince Harry (left) of Team Gelfiddich with Heath Jamieson of Team Commonwealth, Margaux Mange of Team US and Team Commonwealth and Duncan Slater of Team Gelfiddich with the trophy at the South Pole during the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge expedition in Antarctica, yesterday.
LONDON: Prince Harry yesterday became the first member of Britain’s royal family to reach the South Pole after a three-week charity trek with injured military veterans from Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia.
Harry and the 12 servicemen and women reached the globe’s most southerly point at 1200 GMT following a 320km journey across the frozen wastes of Antarctica, organisers Walking With The Wounded said.
The expedition was initially conceived as a race but it was abandoned due to concerns about the safety of the participants, some of whom lost limbs fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The teams decided to continue their trek, however, dragging 70-kilogramme sleds through the bitter cold and high winds. Harry, 29, joked earlier this week about the expected arrival date of Friday 13th, which he said was “unlucky for some, lucky for us”.
“The wind has dropped down, which is nice. I think everyone is feeling a bit tired but slowly getting into the rhythm,” the fourth-in-line to the throne said.
“Only just got into the rhythm now and it has almost finished.”
The veterans have endured temperatures as low as minus 35 degrees Celsius (minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit) and wind speeds of around 80km per hour.
The trek has been organised by Walking With The Wounded, a charity which raises funds to retrain injured troops and help them find new careers outside the military.
Harry joined the charity for part of a trek to the North Pole in 2011, but had to come home early to be best man at his brother Prince William’s wedding to the former Kate Middleton.