Details announced of Prince Harry's Tour of Nepal
As previously announced, Prince Harry will visit Nepal for the first time, undertaking an official tour between Saturday 19th and Wednesday 23rd March.
This is an official visit on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. The visit will support British interests in the region and highlight the broad and deep relationship between the UK and Nepal. 2016 marks the bicentenary of bilateral relations between the two countries.
The programme has also taken account of Prince Harry's personal request to meet Nepali people in a variety of environments and to experience as much of what is important to them as possible. He has a huge amount of admiration for the resilience of the people of the country, particularly in response to the earthquakes last year. During the visit he will learn how the country has been recovering over the last 12 months.
Prince Harry will be introduced to the home of the Brigade of Gurkhas, saluting the extraordinary bravery and commitment that Gurkhas have shown in the last 200 years. This will be a particularly important moment for him, having such a huge amount of respect for Gurkha soldiers, and having known members of the Gurkhas who have sadly been injured in recent conflicts.
Prince Harry will also have the opportunity to experience the country's stunning natural beauty and highlight the importance of conservation-based tourism in Nepal.
Finally, he will learn about Nepal's future through its young people and both the challenges and opportunities they will experience in the years to come.
Prince Harry will arrive in Nepal on Saturday 19th March. Late that evening he will attend a reception hosted by Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa. Prince Harry will meet ministers and senior officials at this event, which will formally recognise the UK-Nepal bicentenary. Prince Harry will also call on the Nepali Prime Minister, K. P. Oli.
On Sunday 20th March Prince Harry will call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Nepal's first female President, at Rashtrapati Bhavan – the Presidential Palace in Kathmandu.
The day's engagements then focus on the effects of the two devastating earthquakes which struck Nepal in April and May 2015. In Kathamndu's Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Prince Harry will view damage to the Ancient Royal Palace and surrounding temples. He will also observe the ongoing work to restore cultural monuments through traditional craft skills such as wood-carving and gilding. As part of the restoration project, these skills are being passed on to apprentices.
Prince Harry will then visit the nearby Golden Temple, from where the local response to the April 2015 earthquake was co-ordinated. He will meet community members who cooked and offered shelter to those affected by the disaster.
Prince Harry will then travel on to Bhaktapur, about 45 minutes' drive from Kathmandu, where he will visit a pre-positioning site for emergency supplies. The facility, which is run by the Nepal Red Cross with funding from DFID, provided assistance to 800 households during the initial twenty-four hours after the April 2015 earthquake. The supplies, which have since been replenished, include emergency shelter kits, water and sanitation equipment, and household items.
From the site, Prince Harry will then travel on to visit a temporary camp for families displaced by the 2015 earthquakes. The site currently houses around 250 people, a quarter of whom are children. The Prince will have an opportunity to hear for himself about their experiences.
On Monday 21st March engagements will focus on the related themes of tourism and conservation, giving Prince Harry an opportunity to experience Nepal's rich natural heritage.
In the morning, he will travel to Bardia National Park which, together with neighbouring Banke National Park, forms the largest tiger conservation area in Asia. At around 1000 sq km of forest and grassland, Bardia is also home to wild elephants, rhinos, crocodiles and more than 250 species of bird.
Efforts to reduce poaching in the Park have employed smart-phone technology, which allows real-time patrol data to be transmitted to a control room. More than 700 military personnel are also involved in anti-poaching patrols. Poaching became a particular problem during the years of armed conflict as poachers took advantage of there being no protection for the animals.
Today, the WWF provides technical and financial support to the National Parks and military. This enables conservation, which in turn brings in tourists, which benefits the local community. This enhanced protection of the Park's natural diversity has made Bardia an increasingly attractive destination for tourists. On average 10,000 tourists visit the park every year to view its wildlife via trekking, rafting and 4WD safaris.
During his visit, Prince Harry will have an opportunity to experience rafting on the Khauraha River and view tiger camera traps in the jungle. He will also visit Dalla, a local community which is benefitting from the economic potential of tourism by offering homestays to visitors. At the homestay village, Nepali and foreign tourists gain first-hand experience of the culture and tradition of its people and also gain a better understanding of the rich biodiversity of the region.
Later that day Prince Harry will travel north to the Pokhara area, where he will take part in a trek in the foothills of the Himalayas. In this breath-taking environment, he will see how Nepal's natural bounty is being carefully opened up to visitors, so that conservation efforts and tourist revenue can become self-reinforcing.
This will also be an opportunity to learn more about the background and culture of the Gurkhas, many of whom are recruited from Western Nepal. Prior to beginning the trek, Prince Harry will meet two Gurkha families whose homes were badly damaged by last year's earthquakes. Their reconstruction has been led by the Gurkha Welfare Trust, which provides financial and development aid to veterans and their families.
The trek will end in a remote hamlet in the hills where Prince Harry will enjoy a cultural show organised by local people before, watching the sun set over the Himalayas. He will spend the rest of the evening at a Gurkha homestay, where he will stay overnight. Prince Harry is hugely appreciative of this invitation, which will further enable him to deepen his understanding of the Gurkhas.
Since 1815 Gurkha soldiers have fought alongside British forces in every major conflict, gaining a reputation for bravery and loyalty. During the two World Wars there were over 40,000 Gurkha casualties, while 13 Victoria Crosses have been awarded to Nepalese Gurkha soldiers. Prince Harry served with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles during his tour of Afghanistan in 2007-8, memorably observing: "when you know you're with the Gurkhas, there's no safer place to be."
On Tuesday 22nd March, Prince Harry will watch the sunrise over the Himalayas before departing the hamlet and trekking to a local secondary school. In the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes, the Gurkhas provided assistance to remote hillside communities affected by the disaster. The school he will see was badly damaged by the tremors and is undergoing reconstruction with help from the Gurkha Welfare Scheme. He will tour the restored facilities, meeting pupils and staff.
Prince Harry will then travel to the British Gurkha Camp at Pokhara. Pokhara is Nepal’s tourism capital and home to a large number of ex-servicemen. Equally, a large number of serving personnel originate from here or from nearby villages.
Here, he will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony to honour Gurkha soldiers killed in service to the Crown. He will meet serving Gurkhas, veterans and their families. Prince Harry will also learn more about the work of the Gurkha Welfare Scheme and the famously gruelling Gurkha recruitment process. Each year 240 Nepali young men are selected to join the British Army, following a highly competitive and rigorous series of physical and mental tests.
The visit concludes in Kathmandu on Wednesday 23rd March. In the morning Prince Harry will open the Nepal Girl Summit together with President Bhandari who, in addition to being the country's first female President, has campaigned on the issue of women's rights.
The summit, organised by Nepal's Ministry of Children, Women and Social Welfare – with support from UNICEF and DFID – supports the promotion of gender equality in Nepal; in particular, by encouraging moves to end child marriage. The Prince will meet organisers and participants, including young people, before officially declaring the summit open.
It is estimated that among Nepali women aged 25- 49, more than half were married before the age of 18; that 1 in 4 Nepali women have given birth before reaching 18 years old; while suicide is the leading cause of death among married women of reproductive age
The Girl Summit is a follow-up to the first Girl Summit co-hosted by the UK government and UNICEF in London in 2014. The event will mobilise policy makers, activists and citizens to commit to ending child and forced marriage within a generation.
This visit will help deepen Prince Harry's personal understanding of one of the most complex social challenges facing the country. As someone who has always championed opportunities for young people to be able to reach their full potential in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances, Prince Harry will look forward to supporting the summit's goals.
Next, Prince Harry will travel to Bhaktapur, where he will visit the Samo Thimi Technical School, which provides technical training for young people. This covers practical skills including metalwork, plumbing, printing, textiles and electrical work. Consistent with the goals of the Girl Summit, many of those benefitting from this facility are young women. The Samo Thimi Technical School has been a recipient of UK funding through DFID.
In the afternoon, Prince Harry will visit the Kanti Children's Hospital in Kathmandu, where he will meet young people being treated in the hospital's Burns Unit. Many of the child patients were injured in accidents at camps for families displaced by the 2015 earthquakes. With support from the British-led charity, Burns Violence Survivors, the Unit is promoting greater awareness of fire safety and related precautions.
The tour will end with a reception at the UK Embassy in Kathmandu, hosted by H.E. Ambassador Richard Morris. Prince Harry will deliver a speech to the guests, and meet some of the many individuals and groups who work closely with UK representatives in Nepal.
Prince Harry is greatly looking forward to getting to know the Nepali culture and people. He was moved last year by what happened to the country following the two deadly earthquakes. But he is also conscious that, almost a year on from the first disaster, Nepal is once again very much open for business and keen to welcome back visitors. And whether trekking against a Himalayan backdrop, or rafting in a National Park, Prince Harry is extremely keen to experience for himself Nepal's natural beauty and the warm welcome of its people.