Prince Harry has praised the “staggering determination” of a group of injured veterans attempting to conquer Mount Everest.
The charity Walking with the Wounded launched the ambitious project this week to put five war-wounded men on the mountain’s summit as Prince Harry agreed to be the expedition’s Patron. The royal even clambered into an altitude chamber at an event staged in central London to promote the adventure, to experience some of the conditions the group will face during their epic climb.
Prince Harry already has a close connection with the charity as he was patron of its successful bid last year to get a group of unsupported amputees to the geographic North Pole by foot, and even joined them for a number of days on the ice.
Amongst the guests at the launch event was actor Brian Blessed, who has previously attempted to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain.
In a speech to the team who will tackle the mountain, Prince Harry, dressed in a top emblazoned with the expedition’s logo, said: “The expedition to the Himalayas – of which I am so proud to be Patron – is raising money to train and educate those with physical and cognitive injuries suffered in war to manage their transition into civilian employment. The premise is quite simple: a job equals security. They have given their all for our security. Security is the very least as a nation we owe them.”
The Prince was joined in the altitude camber – a large plastic box with two treadmills – by one of the expedition team, Karl Hinett, a former private in the Staffordshire Regiment who suffered severe burns to his hands, face and arms during a petrol bomb attack on his warrior tank in Basra, Iraq, in 2005.
The pair were wired up to monitors which displayed their pulse rates and the oxygen saturation levels in their blood on screens outside the chamber.
Hinett said: “We weren’t doing much talking in the chamber, we were just concentrating on walking, it was pretty difficult. It was a lot harder then he expected and Prince Harry did say he felt light-headed when he came out.”