At a time when a large number of earthquake victims in Nepal have been living in temporary shelters, facing harsh winter, wind and rain, British Prince Harry visited different parts of Nepal giving a healing touch to those suffering from the devastat

March 30, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.09, No 18, April 1,2016 (Chaitra 19, 2072)

Local Tari Maya Prajapati, 75, waited for almost five hours at Bhaktapur Durbar Square to catch a glimpse of British Prince Harry. When she saw him, she had forgotten for a moment that her house was partially damaged by the earthquake last year.

“No matter where he is from, 'Prince is Prince and King is King'. Young and charming, Prince Harry came to see us in our difficult period. This shows his dedication and commitment to the common people,” said Prajapati, who has been living in her temporary shelter, with enough frustrations for almost over the year following the earthquakes. "Prince Harry’s visit has healed our wounds."

Prajapati was among the thousands of people who felt good to see British Prince Harry, the first royalty, coming to their courtyard to ask about their situation. In Patan, another old city, people welcomed Prince Harry in a similar manner.  

Nuhuchhe Byanajnkar, 82, spent almost three hours in Patan Durbar Square to see British Prince Harry from a close distance. “I forgot the names, but I had seen his father and mother in Patan Durbar long time ago. I am happy to see young Prince again. When he waved his hand towards us, I found in his face something of our own prince,” said Byanjankar.

In the presence of a large crowd, Prince Harry visited Patan Durbar Square and saw the renovation of temples going on there. Welcomed by Pratima Pande, Kanak Mani Dixit and Dr. Gautam Ranjit of Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, Prince Harry spent some time with the artisans and sculptors at Patan.

In Bhakatapur, Prince Harry visited the temporary shelters in Byasi where he met the earthquake victims entering their temporary shelters and enquiring about their state of living.

As in Patan, Prince Harry also came out in the open and inspected the devastated temples in Bhaktapur. As Prince Harry often walked close by the people to greet them, police had a hard time stopping the enthusiastic crowds.

Monarchical Tradition

Although Nepal has turned into a Republic from a Monarchical system of less than a decade ago, the people closely identified themselves as familiar with the royal tradition. Many held a belief that monarchs were born to take care of the people and cited the legends of Malla King Bhim Malla, who was said to go for dinner only after ensuring there was smoke coming out from the kitchen of each home he could see from his palace. Prince Harry's visit reminded the locals of the long tradition.     

“Nepal has had a long tradition of monarchical system. People have socialized in the monarchical system in different dynasties, including the Gopalas, Licchavis, Mallas and Shahs. The cultures, religions, values and beliefs that evolved with monarchy cannot vanish overnight. Nepalese enthusiastically welcomed Prince Harry because of their strong respect and faith towards the institution of monarchy,” said Dev Raj Dahal, a political scientist.

Not only in Patan and Bhaktapur, Prince Harry also visited the earthquake-devastated district of Gorkha. He visited Bardia National Park and inspected tiger monitoring. He home-stayed with a family in Lamjung. In all places, the people welcomed him in the same manner as they did in Patan and Bhaktapur.

As Nepal will be commemorating the first anniversary of the earthquake, with an overwhelming number of people still living in tents and shelters, a growing frustration and anger had pervaded the mood of the people.

With his charming personality, British Prince Harry made efforts to heal their wounds -- he not only inspected the damaged homes and other destructions caused by the earthquakes, he also visited temporary reconstruction sites, literally working hand in hand with the people.

“The people I have met and the beauty of this country made it very hard for me to leave. Thankfully, however, I’m not leaving just yet! I will be spending the next six days in a remote village with a charity called Team Rubicon. The team I’m joining will be working with a community to rebuild a school damaged in the earthquake. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity at the end of my official tour to do my small bit to help this beautiful country," said Prince Harry, speaking at a UK Embassy Reception.

After completing his official tour of Nepal, Prince Harry extended his tour to six more days in Nepal to work with Team Rubicon UK on an earthquake relief project in Gorkha district.

Prince Harry was also impressed by the response of people. “The people I have met on this journey have made this goal so easy. I met Purushottam Suwal, who is 15 years old. He is the chairperson of the community committee at Byasi camp where 80 families are living after losing their homes in last year's earthquake. His energy and optimism was inspiring and I was left in no doubt why his community had picked him to lead them through such a difficult time. I would not be surprised if I meet him again on a future visit as Prime Minister. Keep an eye out for him!” said Prince Harry, in his statement.

Prince Harry has seen numerous initiatives that have supported the people of Nepal in returning to normality following the huge destruction from the earthquakes almost a year ago.

“What happened in this country a year ago was a tragic disaster. But the people I met showed me that everyone is focused on the work ahead. I am tremendously proud that my country - through the Department for International Development and the generosity of so many people and organizations in the UK - are doing so much to support the Government and people of Nepal in your recovery,” said Prince Harry.

“I hope that everyone back home who took an interest in the tour can see that Nepal is a country that you really have to come and visit. You have to come and see world heritage sites like Patan Durbar Square and be inspired by Nepal's history,” said Prince Harry, giving a boost to Nepal’s efforts for tourism, which was badly hit by the earthquake.

“You have to come to see the beautiful wildernesses like Bardia National Park. The work there is an example to the rest of the world of how the conservation battle can be won through the cooperation of communities, park staff and military. You have to come and walk in the foothills of the Himalayas - watching the sunrise over those majestic mountains is something I will never forget. But most of all you have to come to meet the people of Nepal. I have rarely in my life felt as welcomed as I have over the last few days. If anything I may have been a bit too welcome! This tika is here to stay!” said Prince Harry.

“It was a great moment for us when Prince Harry spoke as an ambassador to Nepal calling foreigners to visit Nepal. This statement will increase the number of tourists in Nepal, thereby helping Nepal revive its tourism,” said Binayak Shaha, general secretary of Hotel Association Nepal.

Along with national parks and earthquake devastated areas, Harry visited the Burns Unit of Kanti Children's Hospital, which was treating 16 young patients.

Supported by British charity, the Burns Unit of Kanti Hospital provides treatment facilities for the burns victims. Prince Harry even stayed with a child who was under treatment for some time.

Gurkha Connection

As he fought along with the Gurkha battalion in Afghanistan, Prince Harry had a great attachment with their bravery and dedication. During the visit to Nepal, he saw first-hand the destruction in the families and communities of Gurkha soldiers caused by last year's earthquakes. As love towards them, Prince Harry was crowned king of the hill when he stayed in a Himalayan village.

The Prince trekked into the foothills of Nepal’s mountain range to spend the night as the guest of a Gurkha family. The whole village of Leurani turned out to welcome him and crowned him with a white turban, known as a pheta.

Dressed in traditional costumes, girls giggled as he twirled them around. At the end of the show, the Prince went to have dinner with 86-year-old Gurkha widow Mangali Tamang.

The Prince had been looking forward to seeing the homeland of the Gurkhas, having fought alongside them in Afghanistan in 2008. Mrs Tamang said: “I'm very happy to meet someone who has fought with the Gurkhas."

In his entire visit, he was casually dressed in a shirt and trousers. His dress-up and body language response made Prince Harry popular among the common people of Nepal.

As Nepal and Britain are celebrating the bicentenary year since the establishment of their bilateral relations, Prince Harry’s visit went to further strengthen Nepal’s relations with Britain.

As Prince Harry was visiting Nepal, Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli returned from his China visit. In that context, the recounting of the conversation between Nepalese ambassador to India and China Daman Sumsher Rana and Chinese leader Mao would be interesting to highlight Nepal-Britain relations at this juncture.

Lt. General Daman Sumsher Jang Bahadur Rana, in his book Nepal Rule and Misrule, describes his conversation, "As for the British, we were separated from them by thousands of miles and, hence, we should just have a natural relation with them. I must, however, confess that we should never forget our gratitude to them because, according to the Treaty of Sugauli signed on December 2, 1815, we had lost much of our independence but gradually with mutual goodwill and friendship based on truthfulness, we had then been able to become a sovereign country again and I was there before the chairman of great country like China in the capacity of the ambassador of a sovereign country. Had they behaved with us as imperialists …, we could not have been as we were now and hence we had to be grateful to them. If we forgot to be grateful to a country that has been good to us, no other country will believe in us in the future. His Excellency listened to me very sympathetically without contradicting me."


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