By Ram Khatry, Sydney
Nepal has done it to too many. So who is Prince Harry not to fall in love at first sight with the lush foothills of the Himalayas and the people ever all smiles?
He has just trashed the carefully orchestrated itinerary as announced by Kensington Palace on March 8 to extend his stay in Nepal by six more days. The extension is definitely not for partying in Thamel, the humming nucleus of tourism in the Nepalese capital city. He will instead be sweating it away trying to build, or rather rebuild, an earthquake-affected school ‘in a remote village’.
“At the end of his official tour of Nepal, Prince Harry will remain in the country to work with Team Rubicon UK on an earthquake relief project,” a press statement released yesterday announced.
Team Rubicon is a unique charity that unites ‘the skills and experience of military veterans with first responders to deploy emergency response teams in the aftermath of disasters’ and hence, the Nepalese villages flattened by last year’s 7.8 magnitude mega temblor make the right target group for the the philanthropic organisation. The fact that Prince Harry is also an army veteran makes his contribution to Rubicon activities all the more relevant. He spent ten years in the UK army and was a combat helicopter pilot in Afghanistan where he would develop lasting mateship with many British Gurkha soldiers.
Speaking at the UK Embassy in Kathmandu marking the end of his official tour to Nepal, the ‘honorary’ Gurkha said, “The people I have met and the beauty of this country make it very hard to leave. Thankfully however, I’m not leaving just yet! I will be spending the next six days in a remote region with a charity called Team Rubicon. The team I’m joining will be working with the 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.”
Although the name of the village has not yet been announced by his office, the 31 year old will apparently camp for a week in the mountains with his fellow British volunteers. It is understood he will get his hands dirty as he personally contributes to the rebuilding of the yet-unnamed earthquake-ruined school.
Prince Harry and Rubicon volunteers will trek into the mountains in Central Nepal with their own equipment to assist the local community in repairing and rebuilding their school.
Such has been his bond with the country he had never visited before that Kensington Palace had to tweak the formal itinerary twice. First, making it a five day visit instead of the initial four days and then now extending it by six days.
As the world media’s attention remains fixated on the prince, the extension is expected to amplify his earlier statement when he said ‘Nepal open for business’.