Prince Harry pays respects to Nepal earthquake victims

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Media captionPrince Harry offered sympathy and solidarity, as Nicholas Witchell reports

Prince Harry has paid his respects to those who were killed in the Nepal earthquakes last year as he began a five-day trip to the country.

Harry told a welcoming reception that he wanted to "shine a spotlight on the resilience" of the Nepalese people.

The prince will meet survivors of April and May's earthquakes - which killed nearly 9,000 people - and Gurkhas who helped the rescue efforts.

It is the prince's first official visit to the country.

The trip is celebrating 200 years of joint relations between Nepal and Britain.

Speaking at a reception held by the Nepal government to welcome him, Prince Harry said: "I pay my respects to those who perished and hope to do what I can to shine a spotlight on the resolve and resilience of the Nepalese people.

"I want to show all those people around the world who want to help that this is a country open for business - so please come and visit again."


Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Harry said he wanted to show Nepal was "a country open for business"

By BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell

He is someone who likes to help if a cause has moved him.

He's demonstrated that with his campaigning for injured veterans and his support for his own HIV charity in Southern Africa.

The calamity which befell Nepal almost exactly a year ago is another of those events with which Harry has felt instinctive sympathy.

The earthquake which struck Nepal on 25 April last year caused more than 8,000 deaths and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Perhaps in part Harry's affinity with Nepal is rooted in the Gurkha connection.

He served with Nepal's famous fighting men during his first tour of duty with the British army in Afghanistan in 2007 and he will meet Gurkha families when he visits the mountain villages from which these soldiers are recruited.

But his first task on this short visit was to express solidarity with the country as it struggles to recover from last year's earthquakes.

In a speech at a reception shortly after his arrival in Kathmandu, Harry paid his respects to the victims of the earthquake and said he hoped to highlight what he called the "resolve and resilience" of the Nepalese people.

That resilience has been tested over the past year. Reconstruction work has, people say, been painfully slow.

In Harry, Nepal has someone who gives every sign of wanting to fight their corner.

Harry is due to visit heritage sites hit by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on 25 April and the second tremor on 12 May.

He served with the Gurkhas in Afghanistan, as a soldier in the British Army, and will meet members of the brigade during his visit.

The Gurkhas - whose name comes from the Nepalese hill town of Gorkha - began joining the East India Company, and later the British army.

They have since served in every major conflict involving British forces for two centuries, and won 13 Victoria Crosses - the highest British military decoration for valour.

More than 200,000 Gurkhas fought in the two world wars, and there are about 2,600 Gurkhas currently in the British armed forces.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Harry met Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli on the first day of his visit
Image copyright PA
Image caption It is the prince's first official tour of the country

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