The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to the Gurkhas as he attended an event in Kent as part of the ongoing celebrations marking their 200 years of service to the Crown. The Prince described them as ‘the very best of soldiers’ and made reference to their long history as he told those he met that ‘your forefathers would be most proud of you’.
Prince Charles was in Folkestone where he met troops from the 2nd Batallion The Royal Gurkha Rifles. The prince’s visit to Sir John Moore Barracks was designed to celebrate the soldiers’ work and to hear more about the Nepalese community.
The Prince of Wales, who is Colonel in Chief of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, also attended a beating retreat and a reception where there was a chance to meet more of the troops and their families. And he posed for a group photo which, in the soaring temperatures which hit much of England on Wednesday, looked very hot and dusty.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles were formed in 1994 and July 1st is the Regimental Birthday. During the event, Prince Charles said ‘though the regiment is only 21 years old, it comes from a Gurkha lineage of 200 years of unbroken, dedicated, loyal service to the Crown with an enviable war-fighting history.’
The prince also referred to the earthquake which hit Nepal in April claiming over 8,000 lives telling the troops ‘countless people in this country feel deeply for the suffering of the Nepalese people and have responded, as you know, with great generosity.’
Earlier in the day, The Prince of Wales had been in Hampshire to visit the memorial to the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties wartime military base whose work helped prepare for the D-Day Landings of 1944. It was set up in 1943 on the instructions of Charles’ beloved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten.
COPP servicemen were trained to search coastlines around the world to help ensure the safe landings of troops and artillery. During his visit to the memorial, at Hayling Island, the prince met several COPP veterans, some of whom are now in their nineties.
It was the hottest day of the year – temperatures hit 35 degrees Celsius in some parts of southern England – and during the Prince’s visit a soldier involved in the event fainted on the shingle beach. The man, from the Royal Artillery, was given water and first aid and was soon brought round before being taken to the shade and offered more medical help.
The prince’s day of engagements also took him to Fareham in Hampshire where he inaugurated the new Coastguard’s centre which will handle emergency calls. Sir Alan Massey, the Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said ‘we are greatly honoured that HRH The Prince of Wales, as our Honorary Commodore, today formally opened our National Maritime Operations Centre…this marks a huge step forward in the Coastguard’s ability to co-ordinate effective rescues at sea and on our coasts’.
And with the hot weather set to continue – although not reaching the record breaking heights of Wednesday – the teams who met The Prince of Wales during this visit to Fareham could find their new resources being well used in the days to come.
Photo credi: Glenn Euloth via Flickr