Queen leads 200th anniversary tributes to the Gurkhas

The Queen is greeted by Gurkhas Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Queen today led a pageant celebrating two centuries of Gurkha service in the British armed forces.

Held in the grounds of the Chelsea Royal Hospital, Queen was joined at the event by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Prince Harry.

Charles, as patron of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, said it was right "to recognise and celebrate these remarkable men and their extraordinary service to our country".

The 1,400 guests also bowed their heads for a minute's silence in remembrance of the 8,000 people killed in the recent, devastating Nepalese earthquake.

The Prince of Wales spoke of the responsibilities Britain has in helping put the country back together again.

"As part of the wider Gurkha community, we share in these responsibilities and I am constantly humbled by your ongoing support," he said.

Prince Charles also said: "In the two hundred years that the Gurkhas have fought for the British Crown they have earned our nation's deepest respect and gratitude.

"Throughout their service they have shown time and again the most remarkable devotion to duty and bravery in the most challenging of circumstances, with significant numbers of their officers and men being awarded the Victoria Cross, this country's highest award for gallantry."

Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Joanna Lumley, who led the campaign to allow Gurkhas settlement rights in Britain in 2009, was among those paying tribute to the servicemen at the Royal Chelsea Hospital.

She told reporters: "It's terribly thrilling. I've been here rehearsing with the whole gang this morning, all yesterday.

Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Prince Harry meanwhile admitted that he had dreamed of joining the legendary unit himself.

"I always wanted to be a Gurkha, but the opportunity never arose," he said. "Physically, I bow down to these guys. They are incredible."