The ruler of Monaco, Prince Albert II, reached the North Pole on Sunday after a four-day dogsled expedition to draw attention to the effects of global warming on the Arctic ice cap, his office said.
Albert and seven team members departed from a Russian base Thursday for the 60 mile trip, a palace statement said. Along the way they faced rapidly changing weather, difficult visibility and fissures in the ice underfoot. Two team members were plunged into icy water at one point but were unharmed.
At the North Pole, Albert planted Monaco’s flag as well as the flag of the International Olympic Committee, of which he is a member.
The prince planned the project after taking part in a scientific expedition in July to sites his great-great-grandfather visited in the Norwegian archipelago of Spitsbergen.
His ancestor, Prince Albert I, was a pioneering oceanographer who explored the little-known regions of Spitsbergen, creating an inventory of marine life and studying ice fields and glaciers.
The new prince made the North Pole trip to pay homage to his ancestor and increase awareness about global warming on the Arctic ice cap, which has decreased by 9 percent per decade, according to satellite imaging.
The 48-year-old prince — the son of Prince Rainier III and late Hollywood star Grace Kelly — took the throne of the tiny Mediterranean principality in July. Rainier died in April 2005.