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Now Kuwait's Amir seeks Gurkha bodyguards from Nepal

world Updated: Feb 05, 2010 16:06 IST

When Britain's Prince Harry served in Afghanistan last year, his royal skin was protected by Gurkha bodyguards, the valiant and fiercely loyal mountain warriors from Nepal.

Hollywood celebrities, who are the new royalty of the US, are also known to seek Gurkha bodyguards and watchmen to keep stalkers and other perils at bay.

And now, yet another blue-blooded aristocrat is asking for Gurkha soldiers to protect his palace and person.

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, who became the amir of Kuwait four years ago after a succession crisis, has asked his government to contact Nepal's ruling coalition to hire nearly three dozen former Gurkha soldiers from Nepal, who may have served with the Indian or British Army.

Last month, Nepal's ambassador to Kuwait, Maduban Poudel, held talks with Kuwait government officials to discuss the process, the Naya Patrika daily reported Friday.

On Monday, the newly appointed Nepali ambassador forwarded the proposal to Nepal's foreign ministry.

The 81-year-old amir's desire to have Gurkha bodyguards is linked to tales of the soldiers' bravery in Britain, Brunei - another Islamic kingdom, and Singapore.

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad became the new ruler of Kuwait after the 13th amir, Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah expired in 2006 but the then crown prince had to abdicate, reportedly due to a health problem.

Kuwait has seen political turmoil in 2009 after a television channel aired a controversial programme in which the desert tribe, the Bedouins, were vilified and called non-residents, triggering angry protests by thousands of tribesmen.

The issue snowballed with the prime minister and three other ministers being grilled by Kuwait's parliament with rising demands for more ministers to be interrogated.

Gurkha bodyguards for Kuwait's royal palace would be a feather in the cap of the government of Nepal if the deal comes through.

However, in the past, there was a similar demand from the UAE that was reportedly shelved after protests.

Nepal's Maoist party, who are the biggest opposition party, had sworn to stop the recruitment of Gurkhas in foreign armies but were unable to implement the plan due to protests by the soldiers themselves and Nepal's fragile economic situation.

Ironically, while the Gurkhas are much-sought after by foreign celebrities, the deposed king of Nepal, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, whose ancestors came from the Gorkha district that is the cradle of the courageous soldiers, doesn't have Gurkha bodyguards himself.