The Duke of Sussex has wished the Walking With The Wounded team “good luck and good weather” after their 248-mile (400km) expedition was switched from Oman to the UK, saying they “know what service is”.
The trek by wounded serving and ex-military personnel was postponed twice because of the pandemic, and its destinations next month will now include Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons and the historic Thames Path.
Harry, who lives in California and is patron of The Grenadier Walk of Oman, said the six-strong squad understood that “walking together with a common purpose and shared mission” was more important than the location of their trek.
The gruelling journey through the hostile Omani desert was to take the team across part of the Empty Quarter, one of the toughest regions on Earth.
The duke said: “The team at Walking With The Wounded understand that it’s not about where you walk, it’s about walking together with a common purpose and shared mission.
“These men and women know what service is, they’ve seen and overcome adversity and they won’t let obstacles get in their way.
“They are paragons of inspiration for communities everywhere. We wish them good luck and good weather.”
The expedition will still cover the original 248-mile distance but in half the time, starting on October 10 at the Omani embassy in London.
They will be supported by a Grenadier vehicle for parts of the route.
The charity said it wanted to raise funds and awareness of veteran issues, particularly following the recent withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan.
Among those selected for the challenge is David Adams, who spent 13 years as an aircraft technician in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and was medically discharged after a diagnosis of PTSD following traumatic events while serving in Afghanistan.
Fergus Williams, WWTW’s chief executive, said: “The Grenadier Walk of Oman was set to be an incredible expedition across the great sands, and the team have been training phenomenally hard in preparation for the desert trek.
“However, the continued uncertainty around the global Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions means that we have had to make the difficult decision to change our plans.
“That said, WWTW is excited to be bringing the expedition home to the UK and allowing the team to put their hard work to the test, demonstrate how those who served can overcome adversity and raise vital funds to support those who served.”
The duke joined the charity for part of its 1,000-mile Walk of Britain in 2015, walking a 17-mile stretch through the English countryside near Ludlow in Shropshire.
He has supported WWTW since the charity was formed, taking part in its expeditions to the North Pole in 2011 and South Pole in 2013.
Harry, who carried out frontline Army tours to Afghanistan, retained his private patronage of the Oman expedition despite being stripped of the royal patronages given to him by the Queen nearly a year after stepping down as a senior working royal.
The Sussexes were described as disrespectful to the monarch at the time, when their camp issued a statement saying: “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”