Commanding Officer, Ladies and Gentlemen, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, I could not be more pleased to be with the 2nd Battalion today to mark your invaluable contribution last year on your Operational Tour. I know that your eight-month tour in Kabul was arduous and dangerous, but that you performed to the very highest standards of professionalism in true Gurkha spirit. And I am so delighted, to say the least, to hear that you all retuned back safe and sound.
My relationship with the Gurkha Rifles goes back to 11th June 1977 when I became Colonel-in-Chief of the 2nd King Edward VII Own Goorkhas, one of your antecedent regiments, thus renewing the Royal connection with the Regiment and the Gurkhas that began 101 years earlier in 1876 when the then Prince of Wales, my great great Grandfather, was the first Colonel-in-Chief. So, you can imagine just how enormously proud I am of this longstanding association and of the fact that during the two hundred and two years of the Regiment’s existence, I have been your Colonel-in-Chief for forty of them and can mark that here, today!
I recall my first visit to the 2nd Goorkhas in Hong Kong in 1979 where, among other memorable moments, I was initiated into the deadly art of eating snake for the first (and only!) time in my life. I see, as I look around, that there are a number who witnessed that event who are here today!
That year I also visited Nepal for the first time as Colonel-in-Chief and did what has now, apparently, been called “The Royal Trek,” during which we stopped on a ridge above Pokhara with a most remarkable view of the Annapurna range. That spot was subsequently chosen as the site of the present Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge.
On 1st July 1994, when all the antecedent Regiments amalgamated to form the Royal Gurkha Rifles, I was greatly honoured to transfer from the 2nd Goorkhas to become your Colonel-in-Chief.
Then, I was presented with the “Sirmoor 200” Commemoration Medal struck in 2015 to mark Gurkha 200 and issued to all former officers and soldiers of the 2nd Goorkhas. I am wearing it proudly today, on the right, as is customary.
Although the Royal Gurkha Rifles is only twenty-three years old it comes from a Gurkha lineage of over two hundred years of unbroken, dedicated loyal service to the Crown, with an enviable war fighting history.
In recent times the RGR has played a significant role on operations around the world, not least in Afghanistan. 2RGR are now firmly embedded into 16 Air Assault Brigade and 1RGR are masters of the jungle in Brunei. I can only wish both battalions a successful Arms Plot Move this summer.
All I can say Ladies and Gentlemen, is that your forefathers would be most proud of you here today, continuing to demonstrate the traditions and achievements that, together, ensure the world-wide reputation of Gurkhas as the very best soldiers.
It really has been the greatest pleasure, and I really can't tell you how proud I feel, having seen so many of you. And I shall probably be seeing the sons and grandsons of those who I saw in the regiment, who are now a little bit older. That, as you can imagine, gives this whole connection that wonderful sense of family, which is what I think makes the whole difference in The British Army with our Regimental system. So, to be with you today is extremely special, and I look forward to meeting you in person at the reception that follows. My congratulations go to the prize winners, shyabash to the Band and I thank you, once again, for your commitment and service to The Crown through the last 202 years.
Jai Second Goorkhas and Jai The Royal Gurkha Rifles!"