Prince Harry

'You've Smashed Another World Record': Surprise Royal Call For Rowing Marine

Veteran Lee Spencer began his crossing in January, aiming to become the first disabled person to row the Atlantic solo and unsupported.

A former Royal Marine has received a surprise call from Prince Harry, congratulating him on his world-record-breaking transatlantic row.

Veteran Lee Spencer, also known as the 'Rowing Marine', set out to become the first physically disabled person to row solo and unsupported across the Atlantic, east to west, from Europe to South America.

Lee left Portugal on 9 January for the 3,500-mile endeavour, and wanted to challenge the definition and perception of disability.

Arriving in Cayenne, French Guiana, he became the world’s first physically disabled person to complete the crossing and completed it in 60 days.

The former Marine beat the previous record of 96 days, set in 2002, giving him two new world records as he crossed the line at 1:06am local time.

The Duke of Sussex is the Captain General Royal Marines and spoke to Lee via video call to congratulate him.

"Nice to see you - that was a surprise," Lee said before being congratulated by Prince Harry.

"You look a little bit like Robinson Crusoe right now, but you've done it again. You've smashed another world record," said the Duke of Sussex.

Lee was totally unsupported on the water and out of helicopter range for the majority of his journey.
Lee was totally unsupported on the water and out of helicopter range for the majority of his journey.

Lee told Prince Harry about his experiences of the challenge: "You get into a routine as quickly as you can and that's easy.

"But the thing I really struggled with was being on your own.

"It weren't the solitude, just not having someone to talk to. It was when things were a little bit scary, being alone and scared.

"You spend 24 years in the service and teamwork is just part of your DNA and then having to deal with things almost on your own, made me realise how much, how reliant I am on other people."

Lee served in the Royal Marines for 24 years, completing three tours of Afghanistan and one of Iraq.

He lost his right leg when he stopped to help a motorist on the M3 in 2014.

He was hit by flying debris as he made his way to the stricken vehicle and his right leg was severed in the impact.

He also had to have his left leg reconstructed.

A year later, Lee rowed the Atlantic in a team of four injured veterans.

Lee Spencer during Prince Harry video call
'Nice beard': Prince Harry used the call to congratulate Lee for his achievement (Picture: Lee Spencer).

"You've inspired thousands if not millions of people whether they be people in a similar situation to yours, whether they're military, whether they're civilian whether they're kids, anyone who comes up against any struggles," Prince Harry said.

"That's one of the driving forces behind me wanting to do this again," Lee replied.

"When you do lose your leg as a serviceman when you define yourself so much by what you do physically.

"You lose a part of yourself and by rowing... I regained that person I was and it changed my life so positively."

Lee was totally unsupported on the water and out of helicopter range for the majority of his journey, raising over £55,000 for The Royal Marines Charity and The Endeavour Fund, which supports the recovery of wounded, injured and sick British service personnel.

"There were many incredible moments at sea, I had many highs and many lows. More than once I was convinced it was all over," he said.