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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down as senior royals at the end of March, when they dropped their HRH and military titles, but stayed on as patrons of multiple charities. There has been much speculation that the royal couple will find it difficult to fulfil their duties as patrons from their home in the US, and that they may be busy with new projects, such as their new Netflix deal. However, Walking with the Wounded CEO Ed Parker said Harry has continued to offer his support post-Megxit.
In fact, the Duke is the patron of the upcoming expedition, The Walk of Oman, which will see six armed forces veterans making a 400km journey across the desert, carrying 300kg of supplies.
The walk hopes to raise money and awareness for the charity, which provides mental health and employment support to former servicemen and women struggling with the transition to civilian life.
Mr Parker told Express.co.uk: “From my perspective, he’s agreed to be the patron of this expedition at the end of the year, so our focus remains on that.
“Every time we’ve invited him to be a patron of one of our expeditions, he’s generously agreed to be so, so as far as I’m concerned there’s been no change in his relationship with our organisation over the whole ten years.”
This flies in the face of accusations that Harry has abandoned his patronages by moving to California and perusing his and Meghan’s interests there, showing that he is still dedicated to the charities he is already a part of.
Walking with The Wounded started back in 2010 with what was originally going to be a one-off trip to the South Pole.
However, when its founder and CEO invited Harry to come with them and he accepted, everything changed.
Mr Parker explained: “I invited him to join us in walking to the North Pole, which clearly changed the dynamics of the visibility.
“What he brought with him was focus and attention and the media, but also his ability to ‒ as he was then a serving soldier ‒ to articulate very clearly the support he had for other men and women who were serving or who had served.
“And he is very passionate about his links to the military community, so it gave us a hugely increased visibility.”
He added: “We evolved from the expedition, because the first thing we did was we went to the North Pole and it was supposed to be a one-off, just walk to the North Pole, make some noise and raise some money and go away.
“But with Prince Harry becoming involved as he did, that rather changed the dynamics of everything.
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“So, subsequent to that, with the money we’ve raised and the profile we’ve managed to achieve, we found a niche in the military charities sector that is very much in the complex end of need and so we support those who have really struggled with the transition, they have multiple needs.”
Last year, Walking with The Wounded helped around 1900 veterans and in the first half of this year has already supported 1600 people.
The Walk of Oman, which will cover part of the Empty Quarter ‒ the largest sand desert in the world ‒ will take place over 18 days between November 20 and December 11.
In another heartwarming link to Harry, Walking with The Wounded is partnered with the Invictus Games and one of the six veterans taking part, Andy Phillips, is also a former Games competitor.
Another of the veterans taking part, Dave Adams, described his intense training regime, which involves 10km almost every day before work, with longer 20-25km walks on the weekend.
Mr Adams, who was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for 13 years and served two tours in Afghanistan, was a beneficiary of Walking with The Wounded before he became involved in a charitable sense.
He has struggled with PTSD and was eventually discharged from the Army with it in 2018.
Now working as an insurance broker in London and the South East, he said: “There’s a lot of difficulties getting used to a completely new way of working.
“I joined the Army at 16 so moving in a new career just prior to 30 was interesting to say the least.”
Of the expedition, he said he hoped to raise money and awareness, saying: “It’s not only physical challenges, it’s mental challenges, as well.
“It’s highlighting what is out there to actually help the guys who have left the Armed Forces, to say you can come to Walking with The Wounded and talk through the issues you’re going through, both physical and mental.”
He added that having the Duke of Sussex on board is “absolutely fantastic” and something he is proud to be a part of.
Mr Adams added: “Knowing the support comes from his level is unsurpassed.
“It means that you’re not fishing a battle without people behind you; that’s something that is very, very valuable to all of us.
“Certainly, I think from my perception he’s one of the blokes, he’s one of the guys, he’s been out to theatre a number of times, so it’s having someone who knows what you’re through tough as the top level of support is invaluable.”
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