Prince Harry crowned king - of Nepalese village


Prince Harry was crowned king of a Nepalese village when he joined a remote community to spend the night with a Gurkha family.

The women of Leurani lined a hilltop path to welcome their royal guest, who wanted to experience life with people living in the foothills of the Himalayas.

With breathtaking views of a valley as a backdrop they sang for the prince and showered him with garlands and scarves, placing a tika mark - a sign of welcome - on his forehead.

To mark his visit the villagers later crowned Harry with a pheta - a white turban-like headdress that was wound around his head and signified his status as the head man.

The prince's bed for the night was in the basic but inviting corrugated iron-roofed home of Mangali Tamang, 86, the widow of a former Gurkha rifleman, whose property had stunning views of the lush green valley.

Frail, but with a sharp mind, the elderly woman was overjoyed to have her guest and, following Nepalese custom, referred to the royal as "king": "I'm very happy. I cried 'when I die I can say I talked to the king of a foreign land'."

Speaking through an interpreter she described how she greeted Harry during their first meeting held in private: "I could do nothing, put a garland of flowers around him and then I blessed him.

"I blessed him so that he may live to be 100 years and all his wishes become fulfilled, and where he goes success will follow him."

The great-grandmother, who lives with one of her eight sons, said: "I'm very happy to meet someone who has fought with the Gurkhas and to meet him at this age."

"Five sons were with me today. I have 119 family members and yes, I know all of their names."

Speaking about the devastating earthquake which struck Nepal last year she added: "My house suffered a little crack in the earthquake but not too much."

One of the highlights of the Prince's first tour of Afghanistan was the chance to live and work with a unit of Gurkhas, men from Nepal famed for their fighting prowess.

Mrs Tamang's husband Gandu Gurung, of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Gurkha Rifles, served during the Second World War and is believe to have seen action in Italy.