Only one woman is to join Prince Harry’s royal 12-strong team on the 220-mile, 16-day Antarctic challenge at the end of the month, which is aimed at raising substantial funds for the Walking With The Wounded charity.
She is Marlborough’s own Army Major Kate Philp, who lost her lower left leg when her Warrior armoured vehicle went over an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan almost five years ago.
She left with Prince Harry’s team last week for the race between British, Commonwealth and American squads due to head for the South Pole in sub-zero temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees centigrade on November 29.
“People often say after this kind of adventure that they’d want to go somewhere warm, but I prefer the cold to the heat – that’ll come back to bite me as well no doubt,” 35-year-old Kate told Hello! magazine in an exclusive interview.
“I’ll be miserable at some point and someone will pipe up, ‘I thought you preferred the cold’.
“It’s been fantastic working with Prince Harry,” 35-year-old Major Kate told Hello! magazine in an exclusive interview. “He is a really, really good guy. He’s strong, fit guy himself as an army officer.
“He has some polar experience from having done a few days with the charity a couple of years ago. He’s so busy, he’s got a full military career ad all of his royal commitments to balance.
“He absolutely throws himself into this wholeheartedly and I think he genuinely enjoys it. He feels very passionately about the cause, Walking With The Wounded, and he knows he can bring a lot of publicity and raise awareness of it.”
She added: “He doesn’t really seem like a Prince. That’s not to put down his royal status. I very much respect the royal family but I think it anyone has any connotations of him feeling he’s the royal family, he’s absolutely nothing like that.
“He’s extremely down to earth.
“So in and among the three teams he’s Harry. Of course we’d never cross the line but you never feel like there’s a line to be crossed, which is a nice thing.”
And Major Kate pointed out: “People often say after this kind of adventure that they’d want to go somewhere warm, but I prefer the cold to the heat – that’ll come back to bite me as well no doubt. I’ll be miserable at some point and someone will pipe up, ‘I thought you preferred the cold’.
An Oxford graduate, Major Kate was the first female British Army officer to suffer serious wounds in the war against the Taliban but after 16 months in rehabilitation following the amputation she decided to continue to serve in the Royal Artillery with 3UK Division, based in Bulford.
In attempting to reach the South Pole by December 16, she will be skiing for 10 to 12 hours a day covering anything from 15 to 20 kilometres and pulling 70 to 80kg sleds, known as pulks.
And Kate believes she might find herself bored – “You might think that we’ll be so exhausted that we’ll sleep for hours and hours a day,” she said. “But actually when you’re in a tent it’s not that comfortable.
“It will be nice to take the leg off and give that of a breather and really make the most of having time with each other, especially the two other teams.
“It’ll be really weird saying goodbye to them and not really knowing when we’ll see each other properly all together. If you tot up the number of hours we will have sent together it won’t actually be that many.
“But because we’re doing what we’re doing, we will become really close. So it’ll be like saying goodbye to family at the end.”