Nepal established diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom in 1816. Ever since, friendship, mutual understanding and respect for each other’s national interests and aspirations have characterized relations between the two countries. The Treaty of Sugauli (1816) provided for the exchange of accredited Ministers to each other’s court (Art. VIII). This arrangement continued until 1923 when a new Treaty of Friendship between Nepal and Great Britain was signed and the status of British Representative in Kathmandu was upgraded to the level of an Envoy. In 1934 Nepal established a legation in London and the two countries exchanged Ministers Plenipotentiary and Envoys Extraordinary. The status of these representatives was promoted in 1947 to the level of Ambassadors, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
Exchange of Visits
Bilateral visits and periodic consultations at different levels have played a major role in furthering Nepal-UK relations.
Major Visits from Nepal:
- Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Kunwar -1852.
- Prime Minister Chandra Sumsher Rana -1908.
- King Mahendra – October 1960 (state visit).
- King Birendra – 1980 (state visit) and 1995 (to attend the 50th anniversary of the end of the World War II).
- Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikari – 1995.
- Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba – 1996 and 2002 (official visits).
- Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai 1999.
- Parliamentary delegations led by Speakers Daman Nath Dhungana and Tara Nath Rana Bhat – 1993 and 1999 respectively.
- Deputy Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal -1995 and 2002 (the latter as the Opposition Leader at the House of Representatives).
- Foreign Minister Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani -1995.
- Foreign Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat – 1999 (as a guest speaker at the Wilton Park conference).
- Deputy Speaker Mrs Chitra Lekha Yadav – May 2000 (study tour) and 17-27 October 2007.
- Parliamentary delegation led by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Shubash Chandra Nembang – January 2003.
- Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Pyar Jung Thapa – 17-22 May 2003 (official visit).
- King Gyanendra and Queen Komal – August 27 to September 7, 2003 (private visit).
- Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal – 22-26 July 2007 (official visit).
- Minister for Health and Population Girirajmani Pokhrel – 03-08 September 2007.
- Minister of State for Health and Population Shashi Shrestha -18-20 October 2007.
- Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokharel visited the UK from 10-11 July 2008 to participate 7th Assembly of Electoral Democracy.
- Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Hisila Yami- 20-23 September 2008
- Chief Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi visited the UK- 11-16 June 2009 to participate in the International Conference of Jurists for Judicial Reforms in London.
- Vice President and Parliamentary Party Leader Ram Chandra Paudel visited the UK- 11-15 January 2010 to observe the parliamentary process and functioning in the UK.
- The Honourable Minister for Education Mr. Dina Nath Sharma January 2012
- Secretary of the Ministry of Education for Nepal Mr Kishore Thapa January 2012
- On the invitation of the Comptroller and Auditor General of United Kingdom, Auditor General Mr. Bhanu Prasad Acharya, accompanied by Deputy Auditor General Ms. Bimala Subedi and 7 other senior officers – 9 June 2013.
- The Chief of Army Staff of Nepal Gen. Gaurab Samsher JBR September 2013
- The Honourable Minister for Civil aviation and Tourism Mr Posta Bahadur Bogati November 2013
- The Honourable acting Chief Justice Damodar Prasad Sharma November 2013
- The Honourable Foreign Secretary of Nepal Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa January 2014
- The Honourable Foreign Minister of Nepal Mr. Mahendra Bahadur Pandey June 2014
- The Honourable Minister for Communication and Information of Nepal Mr MinendraRijal June 2014
- Chief of Army Staff Chhatra Man Singh Gurung from 04-08 October 2010 (official visit).
- The Honourable Minister for Women Mrs. Nilam Khadka July 2014
- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Kamal Thapa from 16-19 December 2015 (official visit).
- The speaker of Legislature Parliament of Nepal, Rt. Hon. Mrs. Onsari Gharti Magar-led delegation of Nepal Parliamentarians from 17-23 April 2016 (official visit).
- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Kamal Thapa from 26-28 April 2016 (official visit).
- Chief Secretary of Government of Nepal, Dr. Somlal Subedi and Secretary of Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Naindra Prasad Upadhaya from 10-14 October 2016(official visit).
- Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Hon’ble Mr. Jeeban Bahadur Shahi from 5-8 November 2016 (official visit).
Major Visits from the UK:
- Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh paid official visits in February 1961 and February 1986. In 1986 the Queen was also accompanied by Lord Geoffrey Howe, CH QC PC.
- Diana, Princess of Wales – 2-6 March 1993.
- British IPU delegation lead by Speaker Betty Boothroyd – 1994.
- Prince Charles – 6-9 February 1998 (official).
- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – 14-17 November 2000 (private visit under the auspices of the World Wildlife Fund).
- Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Inge – 7-10 October 1993.
- British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Liam Fox, Foreign and Commonwealth Office – 23-26 August 1996 (unofficial).
- Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short – 12-17 November 1998 (official).
- Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook – 20-21 April 2000 (first ever official visit by a British Foreign Secretary).
- Geoffrey Hoon, M.P., Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom, on 13-15 December 2000 (official visit).
- Ben Bradshaw, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – 19-20 February 2002.
- Chief of the Defense Staff of the British Army Admiral Sir Michael Boyce – 24-28 May 2002 (official).
- British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Mike O’Brien – 9-11 October 2002 (official).
- Rosalind Marsden, Director for South Asia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – 23-26 November 2002.
- Permanent Under Secretary of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Michael Jay – 6-7 December 2002.
- British team headed by John Stephen Smith, Head, South Asia Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office – 3-6 February 2003.
- Tom Phillips, Director for South Asia of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – 10-12 February 2003.
- Richard Spring MP, Member of the House of Commons and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs – 19-23 February 2003.
- Sir Jeffrey James, Special Representative – March 8, 2003, June 7-15, 2003, November 30, 2003 and March 20- 2004.
- Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson – 1-6 November 2003 (official).
- Gareth Thomas, British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (PUSS) for International Development – 28-30 July 2004 and 2-4 April 2007.
- Kim Howells, MP, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs –25-28 September 2006.
- British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of the Department for the International Development (DFID), Shahid Mallik – 17-20 September 2007.
- British Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Lord Malloch Brown- 18-19 July 2008.
- British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of the DFID Mike Foster- 31 March – 02 April 2009
- Permanent Secretary in the DFID Ms. Nemat (Minouche) Shafik- 30 June- 01 July 2009
- Minister of State Alan Duncan in the DFID- 26-28 May 2010.
- CGS General Sir David Richards KCB CBE DSO ADC GEN– 04-09 February 2010(official visit).
- British Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Peace Building Jack McConnell- 31 March 02 April 2010.
- Equalities Minister of United Kingdom Rt. Hon Lynne Featherstone June 2011
- Minister of State for International Development Rt. Hon. Alan Duncan June 2012
- Chief of Army Staff UK Sir Peter Wall November 2012
- Minister of State for International Development Rt. Hon. Alan Duncan June 2012
- Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth office Rt. Hon. Hugo Swire June 2014
- Minister of State the Department for International Development Rt. Hon. Alan Duncan March 2014
- Rt Hon Sir John Stanley MP (Conservative), Jackie Doyle-Price MP (Conservative), Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour), Baroness Northover (Liberal Democrat) and Virendra Sharma (Labour), Charlie Holloway (BGIPU Secretariat to Nepal) bilateral parliamentary visits between Britain and Nepal – 14-19 September 2014.
- Minister for International Development Desmond Swayne visited Nepal to see DFID’s bilateral programmes and how the UK, Nepal’s largest bilateral donor, is supporting efforts to combat poverty and promote economic growth – 18-20 February 2015.
- Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, and DFID’s Director General, Joy Hutcheon visited Nepal for providing UK support, advisory, strategic and funding assistance – 19th May 2015.
- Minister for International Development, Desmond Swayne visited Nepal for a two-day official visit on 27th August, 2015 for examining some of DFID’s work in the area of disaster preparedness, including the Humanitarian Goods depot at the airport and the site of emergency supplies.
- HRH Prince Harry visit to Nepal from 19-29 March 2016. The official visit is made on behalf of Her Majesty Government for supporting British interests in the region and to mark Nepal-UK bicentenary relationship.
Development and Economic Cooperation
British fellowships to Nepal began from 1950s and financial assistance in 1961. British volunteers have been engaged in Nepal since 1964. These programmes have contributed to addressing Nepal’s need for trained, specialized manpower and developed important links between the two peoples.
British assistance generally comes now through the Department for International Development (DFID) in the form of an Umbrella Agreement. Its emphasis is on the reduction of poverty in developing countries. The DFID opened its office in Kathmandu in March 1999.
The British aid through DFID for the year 2000/2001 was to the tune of £18.52 million, followed by £22 million in 2002, £35 million in 2004, £47 million in 2005-06, £48.8 million in 2007/08 and about £58 million spent for the year 2008/09.
Different socio-economic activities in Nepal have benefited from British government assistance. Reducing poverty and social exclusion and thus contributing to a lasting peace have been the principal focuses of this assistance, which include governance reforms; improved basic services for poor people (including basic education, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and rural infrastructure); and peace building and conflict resolution activities.
In terms of sectors, Nepal has received British aid in agriculture, transport, local development, communication, education, administration, health, water supply and forestry.
A technical cooperation agreement to strengthen the traditional Nepal-UK collaboration was signed on 31st May 1994. This agreement stipulates the roles and responsibilities of the two governments regarding British technical cooperation and the British Council activities.
Peace and Democratic Process
The British government has continuously been supporting the cause of democracy in Nepal. It has recognised the people’s movement of 2006 and consecutive political changes including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the government and Maoists rebels. The UK government, like that of other European governments, deems that the presence of UNMIN in Nepal is imperative for the greater level of confidence not only for international community but also for the primary stakeholders of the peace process. As a member of UN’s Security Council, the UK has been, besides to the democratic changes taking place in Nepal, extending all possible help to see Nepal’s ongoing peace process is logically concluded.
The total commitment of the British government for the peace process, through Department for International Development (DFID), has reached £5 million in 2010. The UK provides support to the Nepal Peace Trust Fund (NPTF), which is major funding basket for supporting the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants as well as to the constitutional mechanisms such as truth and reconciliation commission and election processes of Nepal.
The Nepali nationals’ recruitment into the British army officially started on April 24, 1815, after the Treaty of Sugauli between Nepal and the British India was concluded in 1814. Subsequently, a large number of Nepalis were taken into the British Indian Army. After the independence of India, the recruitment of Nepali nationals was organised under the Tripartite Agreement of 1947 among Nepal, India and the United Kingdom. This agreement paved way for the distribution of the then existing Gurkha Brigades serving between India and Britain. Thus the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th Gurkha Rifles became part of the British Army while the rest were retained by independent India.
A gradual decline of the British Empire after the Second World War and the emergence of a changing pattern of global power relations, particularly in the late 1980s, led to the downsizing of the British Army. Since the handover of Hong Kong to China in June 1997, the strength of the Nepalis in the British Army has been reduced to 3,500. There are about 27,000 pension holders, 10,000 welfare recipients and 11,000 non-pension holders.
British Gurkha soldiers are a fully integrated part of the British Armed Forces. They constitute an important element of Nepal-Britain relations. Over 160,000 Gurkhas were enlisted in the Gurkha Brigade and other units of the Indian Army during the First and Second World Wars. The Brigade suffered 43,000 casualties during those Wars. In recognition of their distinguished service, the British Gurkha servicemen from Nepal have won 13 Victoria Crosses (VC), the highest British gallantry honour.
The Government of Nepal had made representations to the British Government at various levels to make the benefits and pensions provided to the Gurkha soldiers equitable and just in view of their outstanding contributions to defending Britain and preserving its freedom and liberty.
The British Government has been providing assistance to various Gurkha Welfare Schemes being implemented in different parts of Nepal. It administers, through different Area Welfare Centres in Nepal, welfare activities benefiting the retired British Gurkhas and their dependents.
The Welfare Scheme is financed and sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and the Overseas Development Administration in the UK. It is further supported by certain private charities and trusts, including the Gurkha Welfare Trust (UK), Gurkha Welfare Foundation (USA), Gurkha Welfare Association (Canada) and Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association (Hong Kong).