It takes a lot for TV crews and photographer to return to a past disaster once it has slipped from the front pages.
So with the anniversary of the devastating earthquakes, which killed thousands of people and changed many more lives forever with long-term injuries approaching, it was perfect timing for the UK’s Prince Harry to undertake an awareness raising trip to the country. His visit was to both mark 200 years of formal diplomatic relations between the UK and Nepal, and also to highlight the progress in recovering from the earthquakes.
Like many of our HExN teams, Prince Harry spent time in both Kathmandu and remote villages, reminding millions of people internationally about how widespread the impact was.
Nepali hospitality shines through
The Kensington Palace media team have an international reputation, and the photo-opportunities were superb, from Prince Harry sleeping in local houses, to being named honorary head of a village, daubed in red paint as part of celebrations for Holi and playing volleyball, a sport very popular in village areas where clear, level ground is often at a premium.
The hospitality, generosity and remarkable fortitude of Nepal’s people shone through in every photo, and clearly impacted on the prince, who had served alongside Gurkhas when he was deployed in Afghanistan.
Prince Harry’s message, covered by UK and international media, was clear:
“I pay my respects to those who perished and hope to do what I can to shine a spotlight on the resilience of the Nepali people."
Tourism is key to Nepal's recovery
However, Prince Harry’s trip was not purely about reflecting the impact of the earthquakes, and the country’s work to recover.
He sent out a strong message about the value and role of tourism, visiting artisans and apprentices working to restore the royal palace at Patan Durbar Square, which was heavily damaged by the quake. The prince held talks with Nepal's first female president, Bidya Devi Bhandari, when both recovery and tourism were on the agenda.
Talking to tourists during one of his walkabouts, Prince Harry said to one family:
“Well done, it's so, so important to encourage people to come back. Why wouldn't you come back here? It's beautiful."
The Prince’s words have a resonance to all of us who are privileged to have visited Nepal. Like Prince Harry, the country has found a place in our hearts. And we are not alone.
The UK has been one of the largest bilateral donors to Nepal, with a total commitment of £70 million in earthquake relief, according to figures released by the Department for International Development.
The warmth which the British hold for Nepal was seen by the amazing response to HExN’s own #NoSocksRocks appeal, which raised £100,000 against an initial target of just £10,000.
The prince’s visit painted a picture of a country recovering from a natural disaster of almost unimaginable scale. With trekking once again beginning to pick up in Nepal and work on the rebuilding of the historic buildings continuing, the role which visitors can play in assisting the nation to progress was perfectly illustrated by this very special Royal visit.