The Countess of Wessex set off on a 450-mile palace-to-palace cycling challenge today after final training in the leafy lanes of Hampshire.
Sophie and her team will pedal from the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh to Buckingham Palace in support of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to celebrate the scheme’s 60th anniversary.
She was waved off on the Diamond Challenge by the Duke of Edinburgh and her husband Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex.
He and Prince Philip met young people who have completed their own Diamond Challenges in the award scheme’s 60th year.
Sophie is joined by six team members, including riders drawn from the four Royal regiments she is linked to - 5th Battalion The Rifles, RAF Wittering, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps and Corps of Army Music.
The team also includes members from the Army Physical Training Corps and Boardman bikes.
The countess is also the ship’s sponsor of HMS Daring, which will be at sea during the ride but cyclists on board plan to show their support by completing the distance on the vessel’s static bikes.
Speaking during a recent training session, Sophie said: “I think if you’d told me a few months ago that I would be able to cycle 60 miles in one go I would have laughed, but here I am doing 60 miles.
“It’s been hard and there have definitely been moments when I have wondered what on earth I have decided to do!”
The Countess looked every inch the committed cyclist when photographed during one of her final training sessions last Thursday, as she cycled round the country lanes and villages of Hampshire.
Rachel McKenzie, a physical training instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, has been putting the royal through her paces and will be joining her on the trip.