In support of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, finished her 445-mile palace-to-palace bike ride yesterday, cycling through the gates of Buckingham Palace triumphantly.
The seven-day ride was in support of the Diamond Challenge, launched by Prince Philip himself, which encouraged adults of all ages to embark on the experience of a lifetime, whilst raising money for the DofE foundation.
Sophie previously admitted being both ‘’excited and apprehensive’’ about the tour. The Countess who a long-term supporter of the DofE, said: “I am both excited and apprehensive to be undertaking this challenge on behalf of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Diamond Anniversary Appeal.”
“Cycling is something I only tend to do with my children and never for more than the odd hour.”
“It is something I’ve always found to be one of the more testing forms of exercise physically and mentally, so cycling it had to be. I am now training hard.”
The ride kicked off on Monday 19th of September, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, and ended a week later at Buckingham Palace.
The Countess was welcomed by her family in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, where higs were exchanged before photos were taken.
On The Countess’s JustGiving page Sophie managed to raise £181,200 from 237 supporters. Sophie seemed happy and grateful for being part of this tour and wrote on her blog: “Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to the entire team for their wonderful support, good humour and yes, even the occasional shove up a hill! We have gelled so well as a team and shared the highs and lows of cycling; the beautiful scenery, the sense of freedom, the never ending hills and many funny moments!
“And none of this would have been possible without the support staff behind the scenes, I thank them all for their excellent planning and dedication to detail. Thank you also to everyone who has been reading the blog, sent in comments and videos, and donated to the wonderful cause that is The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Your money will go a long way towards enabling many more young people to access this incredible life changing programme and I am hugely grateful to you all.”
The Countess was joined by four of her regiments, including 5th Battalion The Rifles, RAF Wittering, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps and Corps of Army Music, as she sat in the saddle to travel across the UK.
The DofE, founded by Prince Philip in 1956, is currently run in 141 countries across the world. Its 2015/16 programme has reached 253,000 young people. It recognises adolescents who complete a series of self-improvement exercises, which include volunteering, physical and skills development and expedition. The Gold level, however, requires contestants to complete an additional residential section that involves working away from home for five days.
The award has been supported by Sophie’s husband, Prince Edward, since 1986, when he became a DofE trustee and gold winner of the award.