Prince Harry kept spirits high on trek

Last updated 16:15 22/01/2014

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Even temperatures of minus 50 degrees Celsius could not stifle Prince Harry's larrikin streak, as he kept spirits high on a trek to the South Pole by telling "eye-wateringly rude" jokes and drinking champagne from a prosthetic leg.

Award-winning English actor Dominic West, one of the celebrity patrons taking part in the expedition to raise money for the UK charity Walking With The Wounded,  described the Prince's antics to the Telegraph. 

Along with the dirty jokes, West also commended Harry's latrine-building skills, saying he constructed castle-like loo structures.

"It was cool having Harry there because he was very much part of the team," West said.

"He seemed to specialise in building the latrines and he built these incredibly elaborate ones.

"He did one with castellated sides and a flagpole, a loo roll holder, and you're sitting there thinking 'this is a real royal flush'. He must have spent about 40 minutes making it."

The three teams, representing Britain, the US and the Commonwealth, had to dig a latrine pit at each overnight stop during their journey, with a wall of snow around it to keep out the wind while people used it.

They reached the pole on December 13 after pulling sleds all the way to the pole with their supplies on them. Some expedition members stripped naked and danced at the South Pole.

West, who was part of Team Commonwealth, said the prince told "eye-wateringly rude jokes, which for a non-soldier like me was quite shocking".

He added: "He was very kind to me – when I was having trouble with the skis he helped me out and I thought, 'what a nice guy'."

The prince's antics were all in the name of keeping spirits high in trying conditions.

The three teams were initially competing to get to the pole first, but when the Antarctic weather made conditions worse than expected they joined forces to make sure they all got to their goal safely.

Prince Harry, who has now shaved off the beard he grew during the trek, returned home in time for Christmas.

"The conditions were a lot tougher than we necessarily could have expected," he said.

The expedition and the charity were about inspiring those who experienced life-changing injuries that anything was still possible, he said.

"Our wounded, injured and sick do not want pity, they simply want to be treated in the same way that they were before they were injured, with respect and admiration."

One of the wounded to take part in the expedition was former Royal Air Force sergeant Duncan Slater.

He became the first double amputee to reach the South Pole and told the Telegraph he celebrated with the prince by drinking from one of his legs. 

"They took some champagne out to the pole and I used my legs as a primitive ice bucket and wedged the bottle in there and passed it around – I don't know how we did it but it went down quite well."

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Slater described how the prince was always at the centre of light-hearted activities like improvising a game of cricket or making a latrine look like a castle.

"There was always something, and he usually instigated it."

Speaking about Harry he said: "He was a great member of the team, he mucked in when he needed to and made the teas and coffees, he was there in his own right."


- © Fairfax NZ News

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