Wednesday, 8 February 2023

The Princess Visits Derby School to Celebrate Inspirational Captain Preet Chandi

The Princess of Wales was in Landau Forte College in Derby to celebrate an incredible achievement by an inspiring woman.

As readers will remember, Kate became patron of Captain Preet Chandi's solo expedition across Antarctica last October. Kensington Palace said the Princess chose to support Captain Chandi because she has long been an "advocate" of the "huge impact" being outdoors has on our wellbeing and "she is committed to promoting this to young people, including through her work with organisations such as the Scouts, of which she is joint President. Preet's historic expedition is the pinnacle of such activity". Preet described the royal seal of approval as a "privilege".

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Captain Chandi, a physiotherapist and serving member of the British Army, currently working at the Regional Rehabilitation Unit in Buckinghamshire, has already made history. In January 2021, she became the first woman of colour to reach the South Pole solo and unsupported.

Fast forward three months and one could say Preet exceeded all expectations. A Palace spokesperson noted: "Captain Chandi broke the world record for the furthest unsupported solo Polar expedition in history. Pushing the boundaries of human endeavour, Preet covered 922 miles in 70 days and 16 hours, skiing for 13-15 hours a day with as little as five hours sleep at times. Preet pulled all her kit and supplies on a sledge weighing around 120kg while battling temperatures of -30c and wind speeds of up to 60mph."

The Palace added: "Captain Chandi surpassed the previous world record of 907 miles set by fellow soldier Henry Worsley, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, in 2015. The previous longest unsupported solo female distance record was 858 miles posted by Anja Blacha from Germany, skiing from Berkner Island to the South Pole in 2019."

Of her success, 'Polar Preet' described it as "the toughest thing I've ever done". The BBC reports:

'During the expedition, she covered 922 miles (1,485km) in 70 days and 16 hours, despite difficult conditions.

She said: "It feels incredible to have travelled such a distance, though it was always about so much more than a record.

"I'm just grateful that Antarctica allowed me safe passage for my journey. It was a lot tougher than last year's expedition - the toughest thing I've ever done. The conditions were harder this season but I felt it was important to keep going."

A huge source of inspiration for this undertaking was the opportunity it would present to "inspire future generations to believe in themselves". Today's visit not only offered the perfect occasion for Preet and Kate to meet (and of course for the Princess to congratulate her), but also marked the first of a UK-Wide tour of schools where Preet will share her story with young people in the hope it will spark among them a desire, hunger and belief to achieve their dreams. The pair greeted each other with a hug.

Derby's Landau Forte College was a fitting choice -- located in Preet's hometown.

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The academy has over 1,100 students aged 11-19 and provides free full-time education to children in and the surrounding areas of Derby. Their holistic approach to education and wellbeing has seen the school awarded an 'Outstanding' commendation by Ofsted.

Kate and Preet chatting.

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Following a competition to design a logo to feature on Preet's pulk for the duration of the expedition, a student from Landau Forte college named Simrat created the winning design. The student had the opportunity to spend time with Preet today and said she was inspired by Preet: "An Asian woman from Derby, pushing herself to achieve dreams, typical clichés and obstacles that Asian women can face." I cannot think of more appropriate words than 'Break Boundaries' to signify Preet's journey. The design incorporates Mandala patterns to resonate the beauty of Asian heritage, a map of Antarctica and a logo to inspire many other women.

The Princess tried her hand at strength training exercises in the school.

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Caption this :)

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Kate and Preet sit down with students.

The Princess spoke warmly about Preet on stage.

The Princess opted for a casual look perfect for the nature of the occasion. Kate sported a new textured ZARA blazer (with thanks to Kate Middleton Style). The double-breasted piece with lapel collar features shoulder pads and embossed gold buttons.

Middleton Maven suggests Kate wore Kiltane's Cashmere Crew Neck Jumper in soft white.

More on the background of the Scottish business:

'As a proudly Scottish family business, our love for our incredible homeland influences everything that we do, and since the summer of 1989 Kiltane has been the leading specialist retailer to bring 100% cashmere to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Our great country and its unique mix of history and innovation inspires us to create our range of cashmere, knitwear and keepsakes. With everything from elegant sweaters for both men & women, to lightweight lambswool scarves, to must-have bags and purses, Kiltane is Scottish, stylish and chic, and everything we design is made to last as timeless wardrobe staples. Afterall, softness never goes out of style.

Although the cashmere fibres themselves are ethically and ecologically sourced from various locations around the world, for almost a century Scotland has been famed for its luxury textile manufacturing prowess and our skilled artisan workforce. However, the quality of Kiltane’s cashmere is unrivalled and we’re very proud to certify that all of our cashmere products are made from nothing less than 100% of the purest fibres collected by our expert partners.'

Kate wore her Veja Esplar metallic-trimmed leather sneakers: "Veja's sneakers are named in tribute to the Brazilian NGO the label has been working with since 2005 - it supports organic and family farming in the Nordeste region. This pair is assembled from smooth white leather with metallic gold detailing and organic cotton laces. The sole is made using some rice waste, Amazon rubber and recycled rubber." They are available at Net-A-Porter.

Kate's earrings are the £8 Accessorize Pearl and Disc earrings (a great spot by Royally Kristinc). They are in stock here.

A lovely engagement. Congratulations to Preet!


  1. Oh! That was an inspirational engagement! Kate was really lovely as always!

  2. Thank you for the informative post. What an accomplishment & how fitting to share it with students. Love the logo and Kate getting in there and trying out the fitness challenge of pulling tires! Nice all around look. Sue from IL

  3. wishiwereinlondon8 February 2023 at 18:34

    This jacket is similar to the red Zara jacket the POW wore last year. Maybe one less set of buttons?
    Both look great on her, I really like the suit/suit separates look she is currently favoring.

  4. I saw a clip of Kate giving an introduction to Capt. Chandi in an auditorium, and it looked like one of Kate's most natural public speaking occassions yet. I think she's really invested effort into her public speaking lately. I don't think it's something that comes naturally for her or that she's innately comfortable with, but her improvement is admirable!

  5. I like that Preet will go to schools to share her story -- I hope that will include what we call "inner-city" schools in the US. I cannot relate to what Preet did but certainly admire her for doing it! Love those earrings!

  6. Just a fabulous post, Charlotte. Thank you.

  7. I'm so glad it worked out for Preet. When I first heard about this I was genuinely worried for her; it's such a dangerous thing to do. I think I've read about royals supporting expeditions where people have died, although I can't remember the details. She certainly does demonstrate strength and resilience though - amazing!

  8. Charlotte, where is this project of yours? I’m sure I’m not the only one eager to see what it is! Looking forward to your new adventure.

  9. Captain Preet Chandi is so inspirational. What an accomplishment. I am so pleased Catherine has highlighted this wonderful womans, achievements. Its great to see her getting in and having a go, setting a marvellous example to us all. Get moving, stay healthy.
    Fashion wise, Catherine looks lovely, the coat, is gorgeous.

  10. I followed Preet’s Instagram throughout her expedition. She is so inspiring and I can see why the princess would want to highlight this woman’s accomplishments. She’s certainly a national treasure.

  11. Valerie in Arizona9 February 2023 at 04:06

    Wow what an accomplishment! And it's great that Captain Chandi will be taking her message to schools around the UK. Thank you as always for all of the great background information Charlotte.

  12. Captain Chandi is a truly inspirational women and what an epic challenge. It was wonderful to see Catherine and Captain Chandi at a school and encouraging all children that in life anything is possible. Love the hug and genuine warmth that Catherine always displays.

  13. Love that sweater. Sadly I can not wear much cashmere or wool except when lined or as an overcoat or cardigan. ali

  14. What an incredible achievement! In the video it showed clearly how enthusiastic Kate was towards Preet, how full of true admiration she was! Thank you for the inspirational post, Charlotte 🥰. Zora from Prague

  15. Preet Chandi is an amazing woman so nice to see she accomplished this amazing feet yet again and is being celebrated

  16. Captain Chandi is a wonderful person for younger children to look up to, and learn from. She is a sterling example of what one can accomplish with dedication, commitment, and hard work. It was inspiring to see the Princess interact with Captain Chandi, and her speech was good.

  17. Any update on your new blog?

    1. Hello! Yes :) Launch in the coming days.


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