Earlier this week, Prince Harry revealed his secret ambition – to join the Gurkha regiment of the British Armed Forces. Unfortunately, The Prince, who will leave the Army this year after ten years of service, missed his true calling because of timing.
Along with his grandparents and father, Prince Harry attended a reception held in London to mark 200 years of Gurkha service to the British Crown. At the event, he spoke to the guests, including Born Free founder Virginia McKenna, who husband Bill Travers was in the 9th Gurkhas, saying: “I always wanted to be a Gurkha, but the opportunity never arose. Physically, I bow down to these guys. They are incredible.”
Harry also met Sergeant Dipprasad Pun, with whom he served in Afghanistan in 2007. Sergeant Pun, who was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 2010, for defeating 30 Taliban fighters who tried to storm his control post, said that the reception was “a great way to show the younger generation what the Gurkhas have done.”
The reception, which was hosted by the Gurkha Welfare Trust, took place on the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital. The celebrations were interrupted by a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the devastating earthquake in Nepal earlier this year, which claimed the life of around 8,000 people and left thousands more injured. A majority of the Gurkha fighters come from Nepal, and some still have families living there.
The Prince of Wales, who is Patron of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, said it was right “to recognise and celebrate these remarkable men and their extraordinary service to our country.”
“The Brigade of Gurkhas is more than just a fighting force, it is also – in every sense of the word – a family,” he said. “As with every family, they have lifetime responsibilities to one another and especially in times of great need. This has been painfully illustrated by the appalling earthquakes which have recently struck Nepal, with devastating consequences across the traditional Gurkha heartlands. As part of the wider Gurkha community, we share in these responsibilities and I am constantly humbled by your ongoing support.”
“In the two hundred years that the Gurkhas have fought for the British Crown they have earned our nation’s deepest respect and gratitude,” His Royal Highness added. “Throughout their service they have shown time and again the most remarkable devotion to duty and bravery in the most challenging of circumstances, with significant numbers of their officers and men being awarded the Victoria Cross, this country’s highest award for gallantry.”