The Royal Gurkha Rifles is a regiment of the British Army, forming part of the Brigade of Gurkhas.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles are now the sole infantry regiment of the British Army Gurkhas and there are two battalions.
Like the other Gurkha Regiments of the British and Indian armies, the Regiment is recruited from Gurkhas, a term for people from Nepal, which is a nation independent of the United Kingdom and not a member of the Commonwealth.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles currently have a jungle role Battalion permanently based in Brunei and a Light Role Battalion in the UK.
All Officers are expected to speak Nepali and will attend a language course in Nepal. The Gurkhas have only been eligible for the Victoria Cross since 1911. During this time 26 have been awarded, 13 to British Officers and 13 to Gurkha Soldiers.
The regiment was formed in 1994 from the amalgamation of the four separate Gurkha regiments in the British Army.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles now consists of two battalions, one of which is based in Shorncliffe in Kent, and the other in Brunei. The battalions change over every three years.
A more detailed history about the origins of Gurkha service to the crown, and of our forebear Regiments, can be downloaded from the right-hand side panel.
The Queen’s Truncheon
During the Indian Mutiny in 1857-8 the Sirmoor Battalion (which later became the 2nd KEO Goorkhas, and latterly the Royal Gurkha Rifles) remained loyal to the British Crown. The Battalion, together with the Guides and the 60th Rifles, held the key position on the outskirts of Delhi known as Hindu Rao’s House for over three months of constant attack.
During this period the 2nd Goorkhas suffered 327 casualties (including 8 of their 9 British Officers) out of a total strength of 490. Following the conclusion of the mutiny, the 2nd Goorkhas were designated as a Rifle Regiment as a mark of the bond that had been created with the 60th Rifles.
This explains the dark green uniforms, the rapid marching pace, and the title of Rifleman given to Gurkha soldiers. In addition, Queen Victoria directed that the Battalion be awarded a special truncheon to replace the Regimental Colours that could no longer be carried by a Rifle Regiment.
The ornate Gurkha Truncheon (ceremonial staff), which is the Gurkha Rifles equivalent of a Regimental Colour (battle flag) and was given to the Rifles by order of Queen Victoria in 1863, during a viewing of the truncheon in the Bow room at Buckingham Palace in London.
The Queen’s Truncheon is still in service today, proudly guarded by the Royal Gurkha Rifles. There is an inscribed band around the staff of the truncheon to commemorate each occasion that it has subsequently been presented to the sovereign.
The 2nd Battalion Royal Gurka Rifles just recently returned from Afghanistan support Op TORAL. They received their medals from HRH Prince Charles and HRH Prince Harry on 14th March 2014 inside the ballroom at Buckingham Palace.