Explorers track down Queen Elizabeth II

December 9, 2011
Queen Elizabeth II (R) speaks with James Cracknell and Alice Roberts (C) during a special exhibition of artefacts from the Royal Collection and Royal Archives at Buckingham Palace in London. The exhibition will show artefacts from the Artic, Antarctica and the Everest campaigns.

Some of Britain's greatest adventurers, explorers and astronauts trekked to Buckingham Palace on Thursday to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

They included Ranulph Fiennes, the first man to reach the North and South Poles by land unaided, and Ellen MacArthur, who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe, who were joined by veteran BBC naturalist David Attenborough, mountaineer Chris Bonington and James Cracknell, the double Olympic rowing gold medallist who has since rowed the Atlantic Ocean and trekked to the South Pole.

The event coincided with an exhibition at the palace showing items related to exploration and adventure from the royal archives.

Bear Grylls, the British chief scout and survival broadcaster, summed up what he described as Britain's unique relationship with exploring.

Duke of Edinburgh (L) stand as Queen Elizabeth II (2L) speaks with naturist David Attenborough (3R) as Chief Scout Bear Grylls (R) and mountaineer Chris Bonnington (2R) look on during a special exhibition of artefacts from the Royal Collection and Royal Archives at Buckingham Palace in London. The exhibition will show artefacts from the Artic, Antarctica and the Everest campaigns.

"I think exploration is essentially fantastically British, and for generations and hundreds of years the Brits led the way around the world in exploration," he said.

"I totally believe that's still the case today. Britain without doubt is at the forefront of the exploration world," he said, citing his fellow guests.

Spurning the traditional smart black shoes, he wore a pair of loafers with the British flag on.

"If you can't wear Union Jack shoes in Buckingham Palace, where can you wear them?", he said.

Other guests included Monty Python comedian Michael Palin, who went around the world in 80 days, Britain's first astronaut Helen Sharman, Edward Stafford, European explorer of the year 2011 and survival expert Ray Mears.

Comedian David Walliams, who swam the River Thames this year for charity, Brian Jones, who co-piloted the first balloon circumnavigation of the globe, and Rebecca Stephens, the first British woman to climb Mount Everest, also attended.

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