His Majesty’s visit to Tuker Lines in Seria was to mark the end of the Battalion’s four year posting to Brunei. It was also an opportunity for the Battalion to thank His Majesty for the excellent 4 years they have had in Brunei. The First Battalion will be replaced by the Second Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles in July 2017.
His Majesty arrived by helicopter landing at the Garrison Officers’ Mess and was received by The Commander of the British Forces Brunei, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Crowe, and The Gurkha Major, Major Shuresh Thapa MVO who welcomed His Majesty in a traditional Gurkha Ceremony, placing a garland of Regimental Colours over His Majesty’s shoulders.
His Majesty was then escorted into the Garrison Officers’ Mess and welcomed by a Honour Guard formed up in the garden of the mess overlooking the South China Sea. The Honour Guard is commanded by Captain Ganesh Kumar Gurung. His Majesty consented to commission 3 Warrant Officers to Captain (Warrant Officer Class 1, Regimental Sergeant Major Bahadur Buddha Magar, Warrant Officer Class 2 Bel Bahadur Gurung and Warrant Officer Class 2 Simon Macey).
His Majesty was then be briefed in the dining room by the Commanding Officer on the Battalion’s training, operations and activities over the last 4 years since His Majesty’s last visit in 2013.
His Majesty then watched a capability demonstration of a Company Raid Operation, made up of members of the Battalion’s Rifle Companies, and Specialist Weapon Platoons including the Reconnaissance Platoon, Snipers, Mortar Platoon, Machine Gun Platoon and Anti Tank Platoon. His Majesty watched the operation unfold on the ground and moved amongst the fighting troops before watching an extraction onto the beach and out to the sea by Rigid Inflatable Boats provided by the Garrison Boat Section. His Majesty was briefed on the British Forces Brunei all-terrain quad bike and had the opportunity to test-drive it on the beach.
His Majesty then moved to the Chit Chat Community Centre where he was welcomed by a combined performance of the First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles and the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Brunei Armed Forces Pipes and Drums.
His Majesty was met by 5 young girls in traditional Nepali dress, who welcomed him with a traditional Nepali welcome known as ‘Pancha Kanya’. These 5 young girls represent five Goddesses in Nepali culture. Each Goddess represents a core: Value, truth, right conduct, love, peace and non-violence.
The staff and students from Hornbill School also had the opportunity to meet His Majesty. His Majesty spoke with the students, viewed a number of the student’s art displays and watched the Hornbill African Drumming Team perform a beginner’s counting rhythm routine.
His Majesty was introduced to the Battalion’s Hindu Religious Teacher, Pundit Bishma Niraula who briefed His Majesty about the Battalions religious celebrations. His Majesty also met members of the Army Welfare Services team who explained to His Majesty about their role and activities, and described the function and purpose of the Chit Chat Community Centre.
His Majesty was then be shown a display of a selection of traditional Gurkha Cooking whilst mingling with the families from the Battalion and had the opportunity to sample some of the Gurkha delicacies. His Majesty watched a short cultural performance including traditional Nepali Dancing by teams of volunteer dancers from the families, including a childrens’ dance and a wives’ dance.
Before His Majesty concluded his visit, The Commander, British Forces Brunei, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Crowe thanked His Majesty for his continued support to the Regiment and made a presentation to mark the end of the Battalion’s tenure in Brunei. The presentation was a large piece of marble carved and gilded with The Royal Gurkha Rifles’ Cap Badge and carved underneath in Malay is the Regimental Motto: ‘It is better to die than be a coward’.
His Majesty received 3 cheers from all ranks in British Forces Brunei before going to the Medicina Lines Helicopter Base, from where he departed by His Majesty’s Royal Flight back to Bandar Seri Begawan.
For more photographs of His Majesty’s visit down to Tuker Lines, visit our UKinBrunei Flickr page.