Page last updated at 21:12 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Brunei Gurkhas meet royal couple

Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall, Brunei
The royals were presented with garlands by the Gurkhas

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have met Gurkha soldiers in Brunei, as part of a Far East tour.

Charles heard how his son Prince Harry had been made an honorary Gurkha when he served with the Nepalese fighters in Afghanistan, because he was "so liked".

As Prince Charles - Colonel in Chief of the Royal Gurkha Rifles - arrived at the British base in Seria he was met by a guard of honour.

Charles and Camilla also attended a banquet with the Sultan of Brunei.

On Thursday the couple dined with Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito.

The royal couple went to Japan to mark 150 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

After arriving at the military base in Brunei the prince, dressed in desert combats, inspected the troops as Camilla escaped the heat and humidity, along with other guests, in an air-conditioned marquee.

Were you feeding him fiendish quantities of curried goat?
Prince Charles

He met Lance Corporal Bhim Garbuja, 25, from the 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR), who had served under Prince Harry in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

He said they paid tribute to the young royal officer by presenting him with a Kukri - the Gurkha combat knife - as a token of their esteem.

Charles - Colonel in Chief of the RGR since 1977 - was also told of how they cooked Prince Harry spicy goat curries as a treat.

L-R: Queen Hajah Saleha, Prince Charles, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, center, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Azrinaz Mazhar
The couple had an audience with the Sultan of Brunei at Nurul Iman Palace

The Prince of Wales told L/Cpl Garbuja: "I was so proud he was with all of you, after all these years of being associated with you."

He added: "Were you feeding him fiendish quantities of curried goat? He really enjoyed it, he told me."

Captain Surya Gurung, from the 1st Battalion, explained that the Kukri was not often given as a gift.

"Those who we give it to, it's because they have earned it themselves. They gave it to the prince because of his support, friendship and work with us.

"It's not necessarily because he is a prince, it was because he was so liked by the soldiers. He contributed to the camp and raised the morale of the boys.

"He should consider himself hereafter a Gurkha," he said.


During the visit the prince also met Rifleman Bhimbahadur Gurung, who is due to receive a Military Cross from the Queen for leading an attack against the Taleban while coming under fire and rescuing an injured colleague.

The prince later travelled to Simpan Badas forestry by helicopter, to learn about the Heart of Borneo initiative to preserve 220,000 square km (85,000 square miles) of forest.

The states of Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia are working together to safeguard one of the most important areas of biodiversity in the world.

He planted the 1,000th Tulong tree in a clearing that was being re-stocked having been destroyed by fire.

Later the royal couple went on to have an audience with the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

A state banquet was held at his palace in their honour, also attended by the sultan's two wives, primary spouse Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha and his second partner Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar.

The British heir will to travel to Indonesia to complete the final leg of their 10-day tour on his own.

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