Prince puts his North Pole plans on ice as wounded soldiers prepare for trek

Prince Harry remains intent on joining an ice trek to the North Pole with wounded soldiers, but military commitments and fears that he might miss his brother's wedding have left his plans in limbo.

The military servicemen, including some who have lost limbs in the line of duty, plan to leave the UK for the frozen Arctic Ocean on March 23. From there they will embark on a 200-mile trek to the geographical North Pole in temperatures expected to range from minus 15C to minus 50C.

Prince Harry, who is patron of the Walking With the Wounded charity organising the four-week trek, said early last year he was keen to join part of the trek.

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Since then his brother William has become engaged to Kate Middleton.

With the wedding set for April 29, and the servicemen expected to reach the North Pole on April 23, that doesn't give Prince Harry much time to get back to England, especially if the trek doesn't go entirely to plan.

"He has every intention of going for part of it, and is working on his fitness with that in mind," Polar guide Inge Solheim said.

A Clarence House spokeswoman said it would be some weeks before the Prince's plans would be clear.

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She said: "He would still very much love to join the expedition, and if he can he will, however his military training commitments mean he will not know for some weeks whether this is going to be possible, so in the meantime, he is following preparations closely."

Each member of the expedition team will haul heavy sledges weighing in excess of 100kg (220lb), but will be allowed to take one luxury item weighing no more than two kilos.

"It means everything to me," Sergeant Steve Young said.

The 28-year-old from Tonypandy, Rhondda, was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in August 2009.

The Welsh Guard sustained a fractured vertebra, among other injuries, and was warned he might not walk again.

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Although Sergeant Young's back is 40 per cent weaker than those of others taking part in the expedition, he gives little inkling of the trauma he has been through.

Smiling broadly a year and a half later he said: "I was determined to get out of bed. I'm one of those people who thrives on challenges."

Another of the wounded soldiers making the gruelling trek, Private Jaco van Gass, 24, lost his left arm from the elbow in a rocket attack.

He said: "The personal achievement would be great no doubt, but by showing other wounded servicemen and women that life goes on and to open more opportunities for them in the future, that's a much better reason to do it."

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