The Prince of Wales launches "The Coldest Journey" Antarctic Winter Crossing Expedition
The Prince of Wales gave a royal send off to Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his expedition team who are walking across the Antarctic this year.
Veteran explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes spoke of the patriotic pride and a mischievous rumour that has driven him to attempt "the last great adventure" across the Antarctic during the polar winter. The expedition, entitled the Coldest Journey, will see Sir Ranulph and his five-man team attempt to cross the continent over a six-month period.
The Prince of Wales, patron of the Antarctic Winter Crossing Expedition 2012, gave the SA Agulhas, the team's ship, a send-off this afternoon.
SA Agulhas will set sail to Cape Town, South Africa, and will be met by Sir Ranulph and the team early in the new year.
The journey across the Antarctic has never before been attempted during the winter but a Norwegian exploring team recently crossed the Arctic during the summer months. The Prince arrived on board HMS Belfast on the River Thames, where he greeted pupils from St Paul's Primary School, Primrose Hill, north London, who were on a school trip.
On board the SA Agulhas The Prince told the explorers: "I can only wish you God speed and every possible good fortune in this wonderful, dotty adventure.
"I'm somebody who greatly admires the kind of intrepid explorer activity undertaken by Ran and others."
His Royal Highness, a patron of the Antarctic Winter Crossing Expedition, met Sir Ranulph and expedition co-leader Anton Bowring. Cadets from SA Agulhas sang a welcome song, and were due to set sail with the ship this afternoon.
The Prince was joined by fellow patron Joanna Lumley in wishing the explorers well. The expedition aims to raise 10 million US dollars (£6.17 million) for Seeing is Believing, a charitable initiative tackling preventable blindness across the globe.
Sir Ranulph and his team will depart from London in the centenary year of Captain Scott's death in the Antarctic in 1912.