Royal send-off for trek across Arabian desert in British explorer's footsteps
The Princess Royal has launched a daunting desert expedition to cross the Arabian Peninsula from coast to coast - her first public engagement since the funeral of her mother Queen Elizabeth II.
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The Heart of Arabia expedition will retrace the 1,300km (813-mile) journey taken by the early 20th Century explorer Harry St John Philby, from the tiny fishing village of al-Uqair, on the Gulf, all the way across the Arabian plateau to the Red Sea port of Jeddah.
The team, led by the veteran British explorer Mark Evans, will be joined by Philby's Saudi granddaughter Reem when it sets off in mid-November, exactly 100 years after Philby's own epic trek.
"He is considered by many," says Mr Evans, "as one of the greatest early explorers of Arabia. He not only set out across uncharted land, but took time to record everything he saw."
Reem Philby has spoken of being drawn to "the stillness and constant movement of the desert at the same time".
"Just observing how nature controls everything in harmony and how we are the ones that have to adapt, makes one very humble."
Travelling solely on foot and by camel, the team aim to honour the memory of her grandfather, who was awarded the Founder's Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for the ground-breaking scientific data he gathered along his route, documenting a part of the world that was largely unknown to anyone outside the region at the time. He was presented the medal by King George V.