Record-breaker ‘Polar Preet’ Chandi honoured at Windsor Castle

A British Army medical officer who completed a record-breaking polar expedition has said “wherever we start from, we can go and achieve anything” after she was made an MBE.

Captain Preet Chandi, a physiotherapist from Derby dubbed Polar Preet, was honoured by the Princess Royal at the Windsor Castle investiture.

Conservative MPs Dame Maria Miller, Sir Jeremy Wright and Tracey Crouch were among the 67 people set to be honoured at the ceremony.

Last month, Capt Chandi broke the world record for the furthest solo, unaided polar expedition, covering 922 miles across Antarctica in 70 days and 16 hours.

Captain Preet Chandi after being made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle
Captain Preet Chandi after being made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

She beat the previous world record of 907 miles, set in 2015 by fellow soldier Henry Worsley, a retired lieutenant colonel.

During the trek Capt Chandi pulled all her kit and supplies on a sledge (pulk), weighing around 19 stone (120kg), while battling temperatures as low as minus 30C and wind speeds of up to 60mph.

She previously became the first woman of colour to embark on a solo expedition when she completed a 700-mile ski to the South Pole in 40 days in January last year.

On Tuesday, Capt Chandi told the PA news agency: “It’s really special to come to Windsor Castle. I’m still recovering from my most recent trip.

“It was a huge trip so it’s completely normal for it to take a little while to recover, I can be a bit impatient at times but I’m definitely getting there.

“I didn’t know anything about Antarctica and I kept wanting to show people that wherever we start from, whatever we look like, we can go and achieve anything.

“So to have gone on my second expedition, it really means a lot.

“Of course it’s incredible to come away with a world record and for me it’s just really important to say if I can go and do something like this, anyone can go and achieve anything and hopefully people can relate that to whatever they’re interested in, whether it’s the arts, science, adventure, whatever it is.

“It’s important to remember where you came from and I want to be relatable to people to show, actually, I didn’t start here and I found it really difficult.”

On her conversation with Anne, she said: “She was asking me how I was doing after the trip and asking how I found it, I told her I was doing well and recovering post-op.

“And she was asking me if I felt being a physio had helped as well, which, definitely, medical skills I carried with me on the trip were helpful.”

Capt Chandi explained she suffered “polar thigh”, a cold-related injury which affected her calf and for which she was given a skin graft.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Dame Maria Miller after being made a Dame Commander of the British Empire during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Conservative MP for Basingstoke Dame Maria, who served as culture secretary under David Cameron, said it was a “really special day”.

On what she spoke to Anne about, the MP said: “Why I received this honour, which was for the work that I did when I was a minister, passing the Equal Marriage Act, and also for establishing the Women and Equalities Select Committee.

“So the award was for parliamentary and public service and I’m particularly proud of that.”