Prince Harry’s “great sense of humour” made him an asset to the South Pole Challenge, team mates said last night, as they reflected on their successful adventure 200 miles across the Antarctica tundra.
The Walking With The Wounded charity trek completed its mission to the bottom of the world just before 1pm on Friday after more than three weeks pulling 11-stone sledges.
The group include 12 servicemen and women from the UK and other nations who have suffered terrible injuries, including the loss of limbs.
Their trek took them across the bleak continent to the geographic South Pole where the group experienced freezing temperatures of as low as -45C.
Each used up around 6,000 calories per day but struggled to consume the recommended 4,500 because of the effects of the altitude.
Ed Parker, the expedition’s director and co-founder of the Walking With The Wounded charity, said of the moment the team arrived at their goal: “It was very emotional, we took off our skis and hooked off our sledges and stood together before walking up to the Pole as one.
“For a lot of people who’d been wounded it was a very significant role in their road to recovery. There were a few tears.”
Prince Harry – who has grown a ginger beard during the challenge – joined part of the Walking With The Wounded trek to the North Pole in 2011 but was determined to play a full part in this expedition and was named its patron earlier in the year.
Speaking of the Royal, Parker said: “He’s a very, very important part of what we did. He did brilliantly and I would never have thought anything else. He was a really strong member of the UK team and he fitted in very naturally, as we all knew after spending the past few weeks training with him.
“It’s a very, very special place to get the chance to go to and it’s a great privilege.”
Originally the challenge was a race between three teams; a British group featuring Harry, the US team headed by Hollywood actor Alexander Skarsgard, star of the hit series True Blood, and a Commonwealth team, which included English actor Dominic West, from the popular series The Wire and The Hour.
But the expedition encountered difficult terrain which forced organisers to suspend the competition last weekend and make the expedition a group effort over safety fears.
Parker added: “Our aim was to show that, despite injury, young men and women from our armed forces can still achieve great things.
“We came down here, determined to get 12 men and women, all injured in conflict, to the South Pole, and this is what we have done.”