01/07/2015 19:49 BST | Updated 01/07/2016 06:12 BST

Charles Hails 'Very Best' Gurkhas

The Prince of Wales hailed Gurkhas as "the very best of soldiers" as he helped mark the 21st anniversary of one of their regiments during a visit to their barracks tonight.

Charles attended a reception where he met members of the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) and their families at Shorncliffe barracks in Folkestone, Kent - and cut a cake with a traditional kukri knife.

His visit comes in the bicentenary marking two centuries of service by Gurkha soldiers who have served alongside British forces in every major conflict.

Charles said: "Now though the regiment is only 21 years old, it comes from a Gurkha lineage of 200 years of unbroken, dedicated, loyal service to the Crown with an enviable war-fighting history.

"In recent times, RGR has played a significant role in operations throughout the world, not least in Afghanistan and in jungle warfare training in Brunei.

"Your forefathers would be most proud of you here today, continuing to demonstrate achievement and together ensuring the worldwide reputation of Gurkhas as the very best of soldiers."

Charles, wearing a grey suit, regimental tie and a Gurkha bicentenary badge and a Gurkha Rifles medal, took part in a regimental photograph alongside 375 Royal Gurkhas before attending a reception for soldiers and their families.

Ten-year-olds Jennifer Chongbang and Krishma Loksan presented him with a Mala, two garlands made up of the battalion colours of red, black and green, and one consisting of fresh flowers, as bagpipers greeted his entrance in to the barracks playing field.

Charles sipped from a cooling drink as he toured tents speaking to soldiers and their families, including Colour Sergeant Santosh Rai, his wife Sajina, 27, and their 13-month-old daughter Arushi.

C/Sgt Rai, 33, said afterwards: "We were really pleased to meet him as our Colonel in Chief. It's the first time I have met him so it was a great privilege."

The Prince, who has been Colonel in Chief of the RGR since 1977 and has made three official visits to Nepal, also attended the Beating Retreat and took the salute.

In his address, Charles also acknowledged the suffering and pain following the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April claimed more than 8,000 lives.

He said: "All I can tell you is that countless people in this country feel deeply for the suffering of the Nepalese people and have responded, as you know, with great generosity."

During the two World Wars, there were more than 40,000 Gurkha casualties. Thirteen Victoria Crosses have been awarded to Nepalese Gurkha soldiers.

Last month Prince Harry said he wanted to join the Gurkhas himself, saying: "I always wanted to be a Gurkha but the opportunity never arose. Physically, I bow down to these guys. They are incredible."