The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrated on Wednesday the achievements of British Service personnel who recreated the famous Scott-Amundsen race to the South Pole.
The teams raced each other across Antarctica, covering 900 miles of snow and ice in 70 days to pay homage to the gruelling polar contest between Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen a century ago and raise money for the Royal British Legion.
As patron of the expedition, Prince William spoke at the reception to congratulate the teams on their extraordinary achievement.
I find it hugely poignant that the participants in the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race are all British servicemen. All but one of the original members of Scott's team were serving sailors or soldiers too”, said Prince William adding that “today's Armed Forces can produce individuals to emulate the extraordinary feats of their forebears is something we should take great heart from”.
In a rapidly changing world, it is reassuring to know that two things, at least, haven't changed this past hundred years: the fortitude of our men and women in uniform, and that very particular British trait of always seeking to push the boundaries... or, as many gathered here would have it, to go 'beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow, across that angry or that glimmering sea”.
That the race chose to support, through the Royal British Legion, Battle Back's new centre in Lilleshall could not be more appropriate. The same levels of courage and determination demonstrated by our Antarctic heroes in 1912 and 2012 are shown each and every day by our wounded servicemen and women. Their courage and spirit simply humble me.
True to history, the Amundsen team, led by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Worsley, from The Rifles, reached the South Pole first on 9 January 2012 and the Scott team, led by Warrant Officer Class 2 Mark Langridge, from The Parachute Regiment, arrived a week later on 17 January 2012 - exactly 100 years after the original Scott expedition.
Also in the Amundsen team were Staff Sergeant Lennie Browne, from The Parachute Regiment, and Warrant Officer Class 2 Lou Rudd, from the Royal Marines. Joining Warrant Officer Class 2 Langridge in the Scott team was Staff Sergeant Viv Vicary, from The Rifles, and Staff Sergeant Kev Johnson, from The Parachute Regiment.
En route, team members paid their respects to Captain Scott and his four comrades who perished on the journey back from the South Pole. Their tragic loss is seared in the nation's memory as an enduring narrative of duty and sacrifice.
The royal couple chatted to team members and their families about their epic challenge at the reception, which is one of three events they are attending ahead of their first wedding anniversary on Sunday.
The Royal British Legion is proud to be supported by the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race, which is raising vital funds towards their £30m commitment to the new Battle Back Centre in Lilleshall to help wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women on their personal journeys of recovery.
The centre is focused on rebuilding confidence, ability and motivation through adaptive sports and adventurous training. It is a place where even small steps can feel like great leaps of accomplishment for young men and women who are used to being at the peak of physical fitness.