Gurkhas are known to be as fearless in combat as they are good natured in daily life. To this day, they remain renowned for their loyalty, professionalism and bravery.
The Gurkhas are soldiers from Nepal who are recruited into the British Army, and have been for the last 200 years.
Major (retired) Bishnu Pun joined the Gurkhas back in 1976 after being recruited from his village in Myagdi in the hills of Nepal. Bishnu served with the British Army for over 30 years, during which time he completed tours of Kosovo, Bosnia and Belize. As part of his service Bishnu also served as an orderly to the Prince of Wales in the Royal Household.
In 1991, Bishnu looked after a six-year-old Prince Harry for the day.
The young prince was on a visit to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire with his father Prince Charles, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
Bishnu recalls his time with the prince fondly, “I was asked to look after him for the day and the regiment had made him a full Gurkha uniform, complete with mini kukri, walking stick and camouflage jacket. We even awarded him the rank of Second Lieutenant for the day! He had a great time, and so did I.”
Last week, the two were reunited at a dinner hosted by the prince, now 33.
The two were reunited at a dinner hosted by the prince, at Kensington Palace. The event, attended by well-known individuals – Joanna Lumley OBE FRGS and Field Marshal Sir John Chapple GCB CBE DL – celebrated the work of the Gurkha Welfare Trust with veterans in Nepal and around the world, while remembering those soldiers who lost their lives serving in the British Army.
Prince Harry has a special interest in the charity, having served with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles during his tour of Afghanistan in 2007-2008, where he memorably commented: “When you know you are with the Gurkhas, I think there’s no safer place to be, really.”
Speaking at the start of the event Prince Harry mentioned how, despite his association with the Gurkhas not equalling the 40 years of his father, it is a relationship which is similarly important to him.
Harry says the Gurkhas are an inspiration and should be supported.
“The men of the Royal Gurkha Rifles are some of the most dedicated, caring, humble and courageous soldiers I have ever had the privilege to meet. They are an inspiration to me and to anyone fortunate enough to meet them. I am honoured to call them my friends.”
“The Gurkha Welfare Trust provides the most incredible support to these men, their families and the communities in which they live; the charity doesn’t pretend to have all the answers but listens to what its beneficiaries need and provides it in the most efficient way possible.”
GWT Director Al Howard, a former officer who served with the Gurkhas in Hong Kong and Brunei before leaving the Army in 1998, spoke on behalf of the Gurkha Welfare Trust saying “we are extremely grateful to His Royal Highness for hosting this event and for his continued support.
“We are also very grateful to everyone else who attended and for the ongoing support of our patrons and ambassadors who continue to play a vital role in supporting the charity and championing the work we do.”
Prince Harry: a friend of the Gurkhas
Bishnu Pun summarised: “Prince Harry does a huge amount to support a number of military charities and I consider him a friend to the Gurkhas. Having spent time with His Royal Highness both in 1991 and last week I am delighted to see that he is as enthusiastic about the Gurkhas now as he was back then.”