Nepal Table of Contents

Nepalese-British relations spanned more than two centuries and generally were friendly and mutually rewarding. Since the Treaty of Sagauli of 1816, when Britain began recruiting Gurkha troops, the British have had continuous official representation in Kathmandu. In 1855 a convention required the Rana prime ministers to seek unofficial British confirmation before assuming the powers of their office. The Ranas offered military assistance to the British during the Second Sikh War (1848-49), the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, World War I (1914-18), and World War II (1939-45). During the Rana period, Nepal recognized Britain's leadership in foreign relations through numerous treaties and agreements. The Treaty of Sagauli was superseded in 1923 by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship, which reconfirmed Nepal's independent status and remained virtually unchanged until Britain's paramountcy over India ended in 1947 and India inherited Britain's historic interest in Nepal. Britain endorsed Nepal as a zone of peace in 1980.

A minor irritant in the steady relationship between Kathmandu and London was Britain's policy, begun in the late 1980s, of gradually phasing out its employment of Gurkha soldiers. Remittances from the Gurkhas based in Britain and Hong Kong served as a stable source of foreign exchange earnings for Nepal. The dismissal in 1988 of more than 100 Gurkha soldiers based in Hong Kong caused such a furor in Nepal that the British minister of state for army supply visited Kathmandu. The minister stated that the incident was atypical and that the 5,000 Gurkhas stationed in Hong Kong would be maintained and assigned to Britain, Brunei, and elsewhere after 1997 when Hong Kong reverted to China. Britain announced in 1989, however, that the strength of the British Brigade of Gurkhas would be cut by 50 percent.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress