Kate Middleton Just Met an Incredible Adventurer

Kate Middleton had an inspiring public conversation with polar explorer Preet Chandi last month at an event in Derby, England. Chandi was only a couple of weeks out from her second solo trek in Antarctica when she met with Middleton at Landau Forte College in Chandi's hometown. Both women said they were honored to meet each other.

Chandi has been making history over the last few years with her expeditions in Antarctica, breaking records and establishing "firsts" for the treacherous continent. Her first trek was in November and December of 2021, making her the first woman of color to reach the south pole unsupported. Her second trip started in November of 2022 and lasted until Jan. 20, 2023 – the longest solo unsupported polar expedition. Less than four weeks later, she met with Middleton back home in England and discussed the event.

"I'm so excited to have you in my hometown," Chandi told Middleton, according to a report by the BBC. Middleton called Chandi a "huge inspiration" and congratulated her on achieving an "incredible goal," and Chandi responded that it was "the toughest thing I've ever done."

That is saying something coming from Chandi – an accomplished officer in the British Army and the Royal Army Medical Corps. Chandi achieved the rank of captain and was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. She has a background as an endurance athlete both in and out of the military, including marathons and ultra-marathons. One of her most notable accomplishments before her polar expeditions was completing the Marathon de Sables – a 156-mile ultramarathon run across the Sahara desert.

Chandi announced her first polar expedition in October of 2021 at the age of 32 with vocal support from her military colleagues. She traversed 700 miles by muscle power alone – as opposed to the sail-assisted "snowkiting" that some explorers use – and she pulled a 200-pound sled bearing all her supplies. She posted voice note updates on her blog throughout the trip which lasted 40 days, 7 hours and 3 minutes. This made her the third-fastest woman to complete this trek. On her second trek, she hoped to cross the entire continent, and this time she wanted to take the first-place record. While she didn't make the time required to do so, she still set a new record for the longest solo polar expedition at 868 miles.

Middleton marveled at Chandi at their event together last month. Speaking before the staff and students, she said: "I'm not quite sure how I follow Preet's amazing presentation but she's been a huge inspiration I'm sure to all of you, and certainly to me. It's been great to see her channelling what she's been able to achieve in the years that she's been working towards this incredible goal. I really hope it inspires you all to believe in yourself, to push your boundaries and also to look and really work on your own resilience too."

Afterward, Middleton and Chandi led discussions with the students about resilience, trailblazing and mental wellbeing. Several of those students told BBC reporters that they were inspired by the event. It's not clear what comes next for Chandi, but many suspect she is not done chasing records.