Veterans

Prince Harry consoles Royal Marine veteran as triathlon challenge ends early

The Duke of Sussex has consoled former Royal Marine and single leg amputee Lee Spencer after the veteran had to end a triathlon challenge across the UK early after a disappointing setback.

In a clip of the conversation, posted on Lee's Instagram account, Prince Harry, whose Zoom username is DoS, is seen chatting to the fundraising veteran via video call about how he should be proud of what he managed to achieve, even though he faced challenges which meant events did not go as planned.

The veteran was forced to end the cycling part of the triathlon after his prosthetic began digging into him, making it too painful to continue and he was further beset by bad weather during the swimming phase.

Prince Harry said during the Zoom call: "You basically cycled the whole of the UK and climbed two mountains and only after that did your stump start to give you a few issues to the point where you had to pull out of the very last phase of it, but you've put so much into this.

"I know you're not happy, but I hope that you feel really proud of yourself to have done what you've done."

His Royal Highness the Duke Of Sussex Prince Harry smiling on a video call with Lee Spencer CREDIT INSTAGRAM @LeeSpencer_RM
Prince Harry smiling on a video call with Lee Spencer (Picture: @LeeSpencer_RM).

After his chat with Prince Harry, also a veteran having served with the British Army for 10 years, Lee said: "I'm so lucky to have the support of the Duke of Sussex and was bowled over when he called me for a chat when I ended the triathlon.

"It didn't finish the way I'd hoped and I was bitterly disappointed, feeling that I had let my team and everyone who had supported me down.

"But his very kind words have helped me to process that disappointment and start to see a lot of positives," he added.

Known as the 'Rowing Marine' after he became the first physically disabled person to row solo and unsupported across the Atlantic from Europe to South America, Lee's most recent challenge, to raise money for The Royal Marines Charity which offers lifelong support to the RM family, did not pan out quite as he had planned.

His aim was to combine three well-known British physical challenges – swimming the English Channel, cycling from Lands' End to John O'Groats and climbing the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales – into one enormous challenge, 'The Triathlon of Great Britain'.

The final leg of the triathlon was supposed to see the veteran, who cannot run due to a severely damaged knee, undertake a marathon on foot.

Lee, who served with the Royal Marines for 24 years and did three tours of Afghanistan, was the first person to attempt such an epic challenge.

Former Royal Marine and single leg amputee Lee Spencer smiling as he speaks with Prince Harry via Zoom CREDIT INSTAGRAM @LeeSpencer_RM
Former Royal Marine and single leg amputee Lee Spencer smiling as he speaks with Prince Harry via Zoom (Picture: @LeeSpencer_RM).

His mission was to prove that no-one should be defined by disability and to keep wounded and injured servicemen and women in the nation's conscience.

Speaking with Prince Harry, the Royal Marine veteran said: "For me, it's always been about getting the message right, not defined by disability, but keeping wounded, injured servicemen and women in the nation's conscience.

"They're the two things that were primary.

"Every amputation, every injury, is unique and every prosthetic and how it fits to every person, so someone out there might be able to do it, but I definitely do have to do something that I think matters."

He was "bitterly disappointed" that he was unable to complete the challenge due to "tide and sea conditions" affecting his ability to swim the Channel and, on day nine, he was forced to end the cycling part due to his prosthetic "digging into what is essentially raw flesh".

Lee plans to attempt the challenge again but he doubts he will be able to include the Channel swim as originally it was part of a relay so the Triathlon of Great Britain will have to morph into something else.

This is not the first time Prince Harry has supported Lee Spencer in one of his fundraising challenges.

'The Rowing Marine' met the Duke Of Sussex in 2018 ahead of his attempt to row unaided across the Atlantic to raise awareness for the Endeavour Fund, a charity co-founded by Prince Harry.

His Royal Highness said in 2018 that Lee's challenge to raise awareness for the Endeavour Fund meant a "hell of a lot" to other veterans.

Video: Prince Harry chats to Lee before the Royal Marine veteran rowed across the Atlantic (Pictures: Endeavour Fund).

If you would like to donate, visit Lee's JustGiving page here.