The coronation of British King Charles III is scheduled to be held this Saturday at Westminster Abbey. Charles acceded to the throne in September 2022 after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Dignitaries from several countries will be attending the much-awaited event of the British royal family on Saturday.
Nepal has sent its foreign minister Narayan Prakash Saud will be participating in the ceremony on behalf of President Ram Chandra Paudel, who is currently recovering from health issues. But should Nepal care about this big event?
The Kingdom of Great Britain (the United Kingdom) and Nepal have been friendly allies for nearly two centuries now. The UK is one of the top development partners of Nepal. Tourism, trade, health, education and the British Gurkha remain the key dimensions of bilateral relations between these two countries.
Overall, the British royal family has very close ties with Nepal. Some of the significant areas of this connection are explained below.
1. Diplomatic relationships and treaties signed
The United Kingdom is the first ever nation in the world with which Nepal has had strong diplomatic relations for years.
On March 4, 1816, the treaty of Sugauli was signed between the East India Company and the Kingdom of Nepal, which further established intrinsic trade relations between Nepal and Britain and the British royal family.
Later in 1923, Nepal and Britain signed a treaty of friendship that recognised Nepal as an independent and sovereign nation. The treaty also mentioned that both countries would maintain peace and mutual friendship.
Moreover, the United Kingdom ruled by the British royal family is also the first country in the world to establish its embassy in Kathmandu. And Nepal established its first diplomatic legation in London in 1934, which was Nepal’s first diplomatic mission, it was further elevated to the ambassador level in 1947.
2. Prince Charles III’s Nepal visit
The new King Charles III, as the prince, along with several other dignitaries participated in the coronation ceremony of King Birendra in 1975. Later, in 1980, he paid another official visit to Nepal.
According to a BBC report, Prince Charles III was in Nepal again in 1998, during which he visited Maiti Nepal, a leading NGO taking care of human trafficking survivors. The NGO founder Anuradha Koirala has told BBC that the prince later sent GBP 78,000 by selling his paintings, highlighting the British royal family is closely connected to Nepal.
3. Dual visits by Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II along with Prince Phillip visited Nepal in 1961 shortly after King Mahendra’s coup, in which he dissolved Nepal’s first-ever democratically elected parliament and ruled as a monarch. During the high-profile visit of British royal family members, the queen mostly paid homage to all the British Gurkha veterans who served in World War I and II.
In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II interacted with 200 British Gurkha soldiers, amongst them were seven surviving soldiers who had been awarded the Victoria Cross. The monarch also expressed immense gratitude during her reign for the services provided by the British Gurkhas, making Nepal close to the British royal family.
4. Other remarkable royal visits
Nepal’s Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana visited the British royal family in 1850. He was the first prime minister of Nepal to visit Great Britain. During his trip, he met Queen Victoria at St James’s Palace and even received the guard of honour.
Several kings and princes from the British royal family visited Nepal to indulge themselves in hunting. In December 1911, King George V took part in a hunt that was organised by the prime minister of Nepal. Such hunting trips were organised in order to strengthen the relationships between the two countries.
Princess Diana of Wales, another key member of the British royal family then, paid an official visit to Nepal in March 1993, as a patron of the British Red Cross Youth and Leprosy Mission. The princess showed concern and support for the unprivileged ones and interacted with them during her visit.
5. Most recent visit
As per public knowledge, Prince Harry is the most recent British royal family member to have visited Nepal. Prince Harry visited Nepal in 2016, a year after the massive earthquake. He paid tribute to all the survivors of the terrible disaster and even appreciated the resilience shown by Nepali people during such difficult times. He also visited the UNESCO cultural sites destroyed by the earthquake and expressed immense gratitude towards the Gurkhas and praised their bravery and commitment over the past 200 years.
6. The Gurkha guards’ contribution
As one of the greatest allies of Britain, Nepali soldiers fought valiantly in both world wars and sacrificed their lives on several battlefields of the world. Thus, this has enhanced the deep heritage and friendship between Nepal and Great Britain as well as the British royal family. In fact, recruitment of the Gurkha soldiers in the British Army began in 1815 and continues to date.
More remarkably, Prince Charles III himself took over the role of the colonel chief of the royal Gurkha rifles in 1977. Then, Queen Elizabeth II attended a parade in 2015 in London to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Gurkha service in the British Army.
A royal Gurkha regiment contingent was invited to take part in the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018.
Overall, although Nepal is no longer a monarchy and became a democratic republic on May 28, 2008, the British royal family is still closely linked with Nepal as it was for the past two centuries. Both countries are making efforts together to enhance their friendship and to provide assistance to each other in further development.
This article has been updated to highlight Prince Charles III’s Nepal visits.