In the world of adventure and exploration, Raleigh International has been a name synonymous with meaningful expeditions and impact. In fact, we have been intrinsically linked with the Royal family throughout Raleigh’s lifetime! We are excited to see that we feature in the second instalment of Netflix series ‘The Crown’. We are showcased in Episode 7, where the adventurous spirit of none other than Prince William departs on his Raleigh adventure to Chile.
The Crown, Netflix’s acclaimed series following the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, is known for its meticulous attention to historic detail. The series weaves together multiple narratives of key members within the Royal Family, providing an intimate look at the challenges, discoveries and historical events that have taken place during Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign.
We’re sharing the stories of Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales’s Expeditions, and detail the experiences they encountered during their time with Raleigh International. But first, here’s a snapshot of The Crown’s re-enactment:
Raleigh’s Royal connection from day one
Our organisation is rooted in royalty, beginning as Operation Drake, which was launched by King Charles III and Colonel John Blashford-Snell. The programme had scientific exploration and community service at its core. It was a round-the-world voyage, with the participation of young people from many countries, sailing in the brigantine Eye of the Wind. It inspired a generation of young people to change the world.
Before Raleigh International, Operation Drake evolved into Operation Raleigh in 1984. This was a trailblazing programme providing the space for young people to volunteer on projects around the world. Almost 4,000 volunteers took part in Operation Raleigh. Since then, we have grown a global community of volunteers and alumni – over 55,000 people across more than 100 countries. Our aim is to provide Expeditions with purpose, supporting young people to take action on the world’s most important issues through international volunteer programmes.
What did Prince William do on his Raleigh Expedition?
Prince William, following in the footsteps of his father King Charles III, volunteered on a Raleigh Expedition to Chile in 2000. He raised funds for the trip through sponsorships and organising a water polo match. His father matched the amount he raised to help fund further Raleigh Expeditions for less advantaged participants.
His 10-week Raleigh adventure took place alongside 102 fellow volunteers in Patagonia, Southern Chile. The Expedition involved sea-kayaking, setting up camp on rocks or beaches, in new locations every night. The majority of his Expedition took place in the remote coastal village of Tortel, which was only accessible by boat or plane. During this time, he helped construct walkways made from log posts that would connect community members homes, sleeping side-by-side with other Raleigh volunteers in a community centre. He also taught English and played games with children at a local school, all whilst learning Spanish along the way!
His commitment to being known as ‘Will’ or ‘William’ meant he could interact freely with the local community, and enjoy being treated as an equal, particularly by his fellow Raleigh venturers. This 10-week Expedition marked a pivotal moment in Prince William’s life, who said he joined Raleigh to do something different. This may have sparked his passion for humanitarian causes and environmental conservation.
The Princess of Wales’ Raleigh adventure
Following William’s Expedition, Princess Catherine had her own Raleigh adventure in January 2001, just months later. She ventured into the remote regions of Chile, being led by Expedition Leader Malcolm Sutherland. He also championed Prince William’s group the previous October. Speaking to the Evening Standard back in 2012, Sutherland said ‘She was by herself, like most people. She was definitely one of the fitter and stronger members of her group, which assisted her for sure. At times it was physically demanding. She was pretty easy going.’
Similarly, her Expedition followed the same structure. The first three weeks were devoted to trekking through Southern Chile, carrying every provision and piece of equipment needed to thrive in the wilderness. During the next three weeks, she even travelled in an inflatable boat! Volunteers were assisting both British and Chilean scientists on a marine survey, analysing and examining marine life. Her final weeks in Chile involved a community project with other Raleigh volunteers. They worked on constructing a new fire station, installing windows and roof cladding.
The Royal impact on Expeditions
Beyond the glamour of royalty, Prince William and Princess Catherine have used their influence to bring attention to critical issues such as environmental conservation, youth empowerment, and global health. In the latest installment of Netflix series ‘The Crown’, it sheds light on their personal journeys, and highlights the value and importance of adventure and volunteering in moulding strong influential individuals.
Organisations like us at Raleigh International are crucial in shaping future leaders and fostering positive change. By showcasing the Royal couple’s involvement with Raleigh, The Crown pays homage to their dedication to social causes and the profound impact of their Expeditions on their personal and philanthropic endeavours.
We’re thrilled to be included in The Crown as a key part of Prince William’s life. The Crown’s portrayal sheds light on a less-publicised moment in both Prince William and Princess Catherine’s lives. Raleigh International’s Netflix cameo is a testament to the transformative power of an adventure and Expedition with purpose. As they continue to champion meaningful causes, their shared experiences with Raleigh serve as an inspiration for young people worldwide who are looking for adventure, and most importantly impact.
This peek into their adventurous past reminds us that even the most influential figures can be shaped by never giving up, believing in yourself, and creating impact together.