Soldiers from the 2nd Gurkha Rifles on parade in Hong Kong in the early 1970s

Soldiers from the 2nd Gurkha Rifles on parade in Hong Kong in the early 1970s
©Gurkha Museum

When Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 it marked a historic turning point for the Brigade of Gurkhas, which had been based there for decades. The Gurkhas were relocated to the United Kingdom and their Terms and Conditions of Service were changed to reflect their new status as British soldiers based in Britain. This meant that their pay and pensions were gradually brought into line with other members of the Armed Forces and that they and their dependents would have the right to settle in the UK. It also meant that previous generations of Gurkhas, who had been campaigning for fairer pensions and UK settlement rights were made even more acutely aware of the inadequacy of their own terms of service.

Meanwhile back in Nepal, the Maoist uprising that had begun in the remote areas of West Nepal spread across the entire country and became a fully-fledged Civil War. The world watched in fascinated horror as the story of the massacre of the Nepalese royal family by Crown Prince Dipendra unfolded. The murdered King Birendra's brother, Gyanendra, assumed power and his actions, combined with the will of a newly-politicised population finally led to the abolition of the Nepali monarchy after the elections that followed the end of the 'People's War'.

The 21st Century brought with it the 'War on Terror' - declared in the wake of the September the 11th Attacks on America. The British Gurkhas were once again deployed to Afghanistan - where they had first fought in the Afghan Wars of the late 19th Century. While Gurkhas and other British troops continued to fight - and to lose their lives - the Gurkha Justice Campaign for ex-Gurkhas' right to settle in the UK captured the British public's imagination and won a historic victory over the government of the time. However not all of the Gurkha veterans' grievances have been settled: the campaign for fairer pensions (for Gurkhas who served and retired before 1997) continues.

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Era 4: The Modern Gurkha Era

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