The Prince of Wales helped mark the 25th anniversary of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles on Tuesday, presenting operational medals following their recent deployment to Afghanistan.
Prince Charles is Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Gurkha Rifles and has been since its formation in 1994.
According to a Clarence House press release, there were “approximately 300 members of the Battalion on Parade, as well as ninety-seven members of 3 PARA, who formed part of the Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle Group in Kabul – Operation TORAL.”
Among those 300 members was Pawan Bucha Magar, who received his first career medal at Tuesday’s ceremony, and later called himself “one of the luckiest people.”
“Today I received my first medal in my career, and it was presented to me by Prince Charles,” he told Kent Online in an interview.
“He spoke to me and asked me questions, he asked me my name and when I joined the army. I’m feeling very proud today.”
Magar is a rifleman with the 1st Battalion and just returned from a six-month tour of Afghanistan.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles has two battalions, according to the British Army website. One is based in Shorncliffe, at the Sir John Moore Barracks where Tuesday’s events took place, and one is based permanently in Brunei.
All Gurkha soldiers of The Royal Gurkha Rifles are recruited from Nepal, while British officers are recruited from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and the Rifles have served “in operations in Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Australia, Iraq and Afghanistan,” according to the British Army website.
Prince Charles presented three special awards during the medal presentation: The Prince of Wales’s Kukri to WO2 Mukunda Rajali; the Tuker Award and the Slim Award.
He was then presented with a Mala, which is a traditional Nepalese flower garland, in the regiment’s colours – green, black and red – before meeting with soldiers, their families and friends, and enjoying an anniversary cake baked by the Gurkha’s chef.
“The Prince of Wales has been an ardent supporter of the regiment for the last 25 years,” said Major General Gez Strickland, Colonel of The Royal Gurkha Rifles in an interview.
“It was fantastic to have him join the wider regimental family in celebration of our silver jubilee and continued success on operations.”
Prince Charles wrote the foreword to an upcoming book about The Royal Gurkha Rifles and praised the members for “maintaining the traditions and standards of its forebearers,” while “building a reputation of its own.”
“During the last 25 years, I have felt incredibly proud to see so many members of the regiment receiving honours and awards for their gallantry and leadership.”