On the 11th of January 2023, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, visited Gurkhas from the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment deployed in Cyprus on Operation TOSCA. She met personnel currently serving with the United Nations, who protect the Buffer Zone that runs through the island. As Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Logistic Corps, she spoke with the soldiers and officers currently deployed on a six month tour.
During her visit she talked with Gurkhas about the role and what the challenges have been. HRH was shown key points along the Buffer Zone and showed an interest in what the United Nations work in Cyprus.
The visit included a Regimental honour guard, a display of the Pipes and Drums, and a public order training demonstration. It was a great privilege for the Regiment to host Her Royal Highness.
Since 1974, the British Army has been deployed to Cyprus, the UK’s contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Force there. As one of the longest-running continuous operations, around 260 soldiers from the British Army form the largest contingent of the multinational force. Operation TOSCA is the name given to the British contribution to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
In an area of continuing tension, troops patrol 24/7 along the Buffer Zone that separates the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Keeping the peace and maintaining stability in the country. The Buffer Zone, which is also called ‘the Green Line’, extends approximately 180km across the island. In some parts of old Nicosia it is only a few meters wide, while in other areas it is a few kilometres wide.
The area is restricted to the general public and no Greek or Turkish Cypriots are allowed inside. It is often described as “frozen in time”, containing relics of times gone by — old abandoned houses, cars and even an airport. This is because the residents of the now Buffer Zone were forced to flee due to the increased conflict, with little time to even grab personal belongings.