Prince Harry has begun his five-day tour of Nepal focusing on the Nepalese relief efforts following the country’s devastating earthquakes in 2015. Nearly 9,000 people were killed and 22,000 were injured. In addition close to million homes were destroyed. Thousands of survivors are still living in makeshift huts as rebuilding has been delayed by political bickering.
He arrived in Nepal on Saturday and was welcomed by five virgins in a ceremony signifying luck and purity at Kathmandu’s Patan Durbar Square. Five is considered to be a lucky number. He was greeted with a garland and a tilak, which is a mark placed on the forehead as a sign of respect. At the square he could also clearly see the damage to the ancient royal palace and surrounding temples, due to the 7.8 and 7.3 magnitude earthquakes in April and May of last year. He visited a camp housing those whose homes were destroyed.
Today Prince Harry was visiting Bardia National Park to highlight Nepal’s tourism, where he was shown the traps and homemade guns seized by Nepalese military, who patrol the park to prevent poaching. He was seen gently rafting down the Khauraha river, which is the best way to spot the wildlife in the park. He had hoped to spot some tigers but the special camera traps designed to capture the animals’ nocturnal movements remained blank.He was given a special welcome in Dalla Village in Bardia by Tharu folkdancers. The village offers a traditional overnight homestays for tourists. he received some parting gifts from the Dalla community.
He also met 86-year-old Mrs Paukuli, whose house was destroyed in the earthquake. Prince Harry will spend the night in the tiny mountain hamlet of Leorani, in the home of 86-year-old Mrs Mangali Gurung, the widow of a WWII era Gurkha soldier. Before that, however, he enjoyed a cultural show, wearing a so-called “Feta”, which is normally for the head of the village.
It is Prince Harry’s first official visit to Nepal. Before this, the most recent royal visit to Nepal was by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal in November 2000.