Gurkhas

All You Need To Know About The Royal Gurkha Rifles

Since being formed in 1994, the Royal Gurkha Rifles have been deployed on operations around the world.

The Royal Gurkha Rifles is a British Army infantry regiment.

It was formed on 1 July 1994 after the amalgamation of four Gurkha regiments, 2 Gurkha Rifles, 6 Gurkha Rifles, 7 Gurkha Rifles and 10 Gurkha Rifles.

During its 27-year history, soldiers from the Royal Gurkha Rifles have taken part in operations across the world, including in Kosovo, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Malawi. 

In 2020, soldiers from the Royal Gurkha Rifles trained Zambian rangers in anti-poaching skills and tactics – the first UK deployment of its kind in Zambia.

Royal Gurkha Rifles battalions

The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) is made up of three battalions – 1 RGR, 2 RGR and 3 RGR. 

1 and 2 RGR are two light role infantry battalions that alternate between Brunei and the UK every three or four years.

French paratroopers are directed by personnel from 1 RGR during Exercise Wessex Storm on Salisbury Plain in 2020 (Picture: MOD).

The Brunei-based battalion specialises in Jungle Warfare and the UK-based battalion is part of 16 Air Assault Brigade – the British Army's airborne rapid reaction force.

As it stands, 2 RGR are based in Brunei and 1 RGR are in Shorncliffe, Kent. 

3 RGR, currently based in Aldershot, Hampshire, is a Specialised Infantry Battalion that reformed in January 2020, with the recruitment process starting in 2019.

According to the Gurkha Brigade Association, once fully formed, the battalion will deploy specialised small teams across the world in support of training and mentoring operations.

Who serves in the Royal Gurkha Rifles?

Gurkhas – described by the Army as "amongst the finest and most feared soldiers in the world" – have served the British Crown for more than 200 years.

All Gurkha soldiers are recruited in Nepal through a gruelling selection process.

Watch: How the 2021 Gurkha selection process was done.

Most recently, 340 new recruits were chosen to be taken to the UK for the next stage of training before passing out and being assigned to their new units.

British officers are recruited into the Royal Gurkha Rifles from across the UK and Commonwealth.

All officers are expected to speak Nepali and attend a language course in Nepal after selection. 

Talks over the possibility of accepting Nepalese women into the Gurkhas are in progress, the British Ambassador to Nepal told Forces News in March.

The Prince of Wales is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Gurkha Rifles. 

To mark the 25th anniversary of the regiment in 2019, Prince Charles visited 1 RGR at Sir John Moore Barracks in Kent.

During the event, he handed out service medals to soldiers who had just completed a tour of Afghanistan as part of Operation Toral.

At Christmas, soldiers from the Royal Gurkha Rifles were among personnel involved in administering COVID tests to lorry drivers stranded in Kent, after France closed its border to the UK.

What weapons do the Royal Gurkha Rifles use?

According to the British Army website, soldiers in the Royal Gurkha Rifles use a number of weapons.

  • SA80 Individual Weapon 
  • L115A3 Long Range 'Sniper' Rifle
  • L129A1 Sharpshooter Rifle
  • 81mm Mortar
  • General Purpose Machine Gun
  • Combat Shotgun
  • Heavy Machine Gun
  • Light Machine Gun

Cover image: Royal Gurkha Rifles troops spot an elephant in the distance as they train Zambian rangers to combat poaching in 2020 (Picture: MOD).