Prince Harry has joked with old Army friends and praised the “unbreakable spirit and resilience” of the Nepali people at a ceremony to celebrate 200 years of co-operation between the UK and the tiny Himalayan country.
He was given a garland of flowers at the event at the Nepali embassy in London marking the end of celebrations for the milestone.
After unveiling photographs of the 13 Gurkha soldiers who have received the Victoria Cross, he chatted and joked with comrades he met when he was attached to the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in Afghanistan for three months in 2007/08.
Rifleman Vinod Budhathoki, 32, who lost both his legs in an accident in May 2010, remembered Harry as very down to earth during his tour with B Company.
Mr Budhathoki, who also met Harry when he competed in the Invictus Games three years ago, said: “He just never let us feel like he was from the Royal Family. We just treated him as a normal officer. He was so nice, and just made us work quite easy with him.”
Corporal Hari Budha Magar, 37, said Harry had joked “stop following me” after they met last week as he and the Prince of Wales presented Afghanistan operational medals to Gurkhas at Buckingham Palace.
Cpl Magar, from Kent, who lost both his legs above the knee in 2010, told Harry about his attempt next year to become the first double amputee to scale Mount Everest.
He said: “I am training at the moment in Nepal and Scotland, and he said, ‘All the best for it’.”
The event was held to mark the signing of the Treaty of Segauli in March 1816, which established formal relations between Nepal and the UK.
Harry was presented with a traditional Nepali khukuri knife, before watching cultural performances and a knife dance by Gurkha soldiers.
In a speech to dignitaries, he described Nepal as a “captivating country”, adding: “It is no exaggeration to say that the people of Nepal, and the Gurkhas in particular, hold a very special place in the heart of the British public and in my family.”
Harry travelled to Nepal last year to visit areas ravaged by the 2015 earthquake, and he lauded the way they the country has dealt with the devastation.
He said: “I saw first-hand the unbreakable spirit and resilience of the Nepali people as they set about it. I hope you and they can continue to draw comfort from the fact the British people stand with you on that journey.”
He spoke of his admiration and gratitude for the Gurkhas, who have served alongside British forces for more than 200 years – a brigade Harry previously said he wanted to join.
The prince said: “Your courage, selfless dedication and professionalism are legendary; but your warmth and hospitality in welcoming me as a fellow soldier and friend means a great deal to me personally – even though certain people took great enjoyment from watching me sweat in freezing temperatures in Afghanistan while trying to get through a very spicy goat curry.”
Nepali ambassador Dr Durga Bahadur Subedi said: “Your love, affection and goodwill towards the Nepalese people are assets for us to cherish. The United Kingdom occupies a very special place in the hearts of the Nepalese people.”