Princess of Wales meets polar explorer Captain Preet Chandi and tries out her gruelling training regime
The Princess of Wales showed off her fitness on Wednesday when polar explorer Captain Preet Chandi invited her to try part of her training regime.
Kate got stuck in and had a go at pulling two tyres each weighing 20kg in a spell of resistance training.
The tyres were used by the Army officer to prepare for the endurance challenge of tugging all her kit and supplies across Antarctica on a 120kg sledge while battling temperatures of -30C and wind speeds of up to 60mph.
Kate, 41, met Captain Chandi, 34, at a school in the Army physiotherapist’s home city of Derby to join pupils hearing how last month she broke the world record for the furthest unsupported solo polar expedition.
Pushing the boundaries of human endeavour, she covered 922 miles in 70 days and 16 hours, skiing for 13 to 15 hours a day with as little as five hours sleep.
The Princess, who agreed to act as patron of her expedition and phoned her the day before she left for Chile en route to Antarctica, hugged her on Wednesday when they met at Landau Forte College, an 1,100-pupil state secondary school in Derby.
“Well done,” Kate said. “You’re an inspiration to others.”
In the school theatre, watched by female pupils invited into hear inspirational talks from the two women, the Princess hailed Captain Chandi’s endurance feat as an example of the sort of resilience, mental toughness, that the girls would all need in life.
“She’s been a huge inspiration, I’m sure, to all of you and certainly to me,” she said.
“I really hope it inspires you all to believe in yourselves, to push your boundaries, and to really work on your own resilience because there are such strong messages that help support our emotional and mental wellbeing.”
Captain Chandi told the girls in the audience that voicenote messages from her family had helped keep her going during the 70 long days and nights alone on the ice. “It was tough,” she said.
She had come up short of her original goal of walking 1,040 miles in the time available but had reset her ambitions and still broken the record.
When she first researched polar explorers, she had discovered pictures of Sir Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, and Captain Robert Falcon Scott and had only heard of Shackleton.
“I didn’t see anybody that looked anything like me,” she told the audience.
But earlier this week when she googled polar explorer the first person that came up was her.
Captain Chandi, who lost 20 kgs during her expedition, suffered frostbite on her leg while she was in Antarctica and has to undergo an operation to rectify the problem before returning to her Army duties.
She was fit enough, however, to supervise Kate and some of the pupils trying out her tyre-pulling training regime. “Shall we let the Princess of Wales have a go first?” she asked the pupils to their delight.
Kate pulled the tyres across the floor easily, showing the pupils how it was done. “She seemed great,” Captain Chandi said afterwards after some of the girls had taken a turn.
They all inspected her dried food rations before she and Kate went into a classroom and talked to Year 11 and Year 13 pupils about the importance of building resilience to cope with life.
Sixth former Jasmine Kaur Dhnota, 17, observed that sometimes those closest to you can bring you down, often without intending to do so.
Kate, who has had her share of problems with her brother-in-law and sister-in-law Harry and Meghan, replied: “It’s in those hard times being able to pick yourself up,” she said.