Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Prince Harry in Nepal: Day Five

He ended on a high and that is saying something because up until today Prince Harry's visit to Nepal was a huge success. The fact that he made day five the best of an already impressive lot shows just what a dream of a royal tour this has been. Today, we had serious issues, we had big smiles and we had a promise from a prince that he would stay and help with the rebuilding work he has seen and heard about this week.

Prince Harry speaks on the final day of his tour of Nepal
(photo @KensingtonRoyal Twitter)

Harry's day began at the Girls Summit which sounds a lot less serious that it actually is. This gathering is all about ending forced marriage, stopping really young girls being forced into wedlock and opening up education opportunities for them all around the world. It's a big deal and Harry was there to open it alongside Nepal's President Bhandari. And he tapped right into the central issue under debate when he stood up to open the summit.

The prince's speech won huge praise and rightly so. In it, Harry said that ''we need to acknowledge that so many countries and cultures are failing to protect the opportunities of young women and girls in the way they do for boys.''  It was a hard hitting message and he hadn't finished there. The prince went on ''I believe it is vitally important for men like me to acknowledge this as loudly and openly as role models do like President Bhandari, the US First Lady Michelle Obama and activists like Malala. As the First Lady has said, change needs to come from the bottom up. We won't unlock these opportunities for young women and girls unless we can change the mindset of every family and community. To achieve this, it cannot just be women who speak up for girls.''

It was a standout speech and is still winning praise right now. Harry spent time talking to delegates and representatives at the summit which took place in Kathmandu and then it was off to a technical school where over half the pupils are women as the college's aim is to address the gender imbalance in the skilled workforce in Nepal.

The day had also included a visit by Harry to the burns unit of a hospital where he met many of the children being treated there for injuries. Some sustained their burns while living in makeshift camps following the 2015 earthquake. There are sixteen children and young people being treated there now and Harry spent time with them and their families.

There was one more official engagement to go - a reception in Kathmandu. And Harry finished it all off with a speech in which he praised the people of Nepal and told them 'I've rarely in my life felt so welcomed as I have over the last few days.'

And then came the big surprise. Harry told his audience he didn't want to leave and promptly announced he wasn't going to. The prince will be staying for another six days to work on a rebuilding programme with Team Rubicon, an organisation made up of military veterans and response teams who help in emergencies around the world.  Harry will be with them, in remote Nepal, for the best part of a week enjoying more of a country that he has clearly come to love and which clearly loved him too.

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