London: Hailing the valour of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers in the British Armed Forces, Prince Harry has said he wanted to join the Gurkhas himself but did not get an opportunity.
The 30-year-old Prince told the guests of his admiration for the soldiers at a moving celebration marking two centuries of Gurkha service with the British Armed Forces, as senior royals and military veterans alike bowed their heads in memory of those who died in the devastating quakes in Nepal.
Britain's Prince Harry talks to a group of soldiers from the Brigade of Gurkhas at a reception prior to the Gurkha 200 pageant in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. Pic/AFP
The British Royal, who will leave the army this month after 10 years, told 'Born Free' founder Virginia McKenna, whose husband Bill Travers was in the 9th Gurkhas, "I always wanted to be a Gurkha, but the opportunity never arose. Physically, I bow down to these guys. They are incredible."
Harry was also reunited with Sgt Dipprasad Pun, with whom he served in Garmsir, Afghanistan in 2007. He congratulated Sgt Pun, 35, after he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for single-handedly defeating up to 30 Taliban fighters who attempted to storm his control post in Helmand in 2010.
Sgt Pun was quoted by The Telegraph as saying, "This is a great way to show the younger generation what the Gurkhas have done." Prince Charles, as patron of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, said it was right "to recognise and celebrate these remarkable men and their extraordinary service to our country".
Remembering the victims of the Nepalese earthquake, Charles paid a poignant tribute to those who lost their lives and those left behind.
"The Brigade of Gurkhas is more than just a fighting force, it is also - in every sense of the word - a family. 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," he said.
Earlier, the Queen met Gurkha veterans.