British TV star Joanna Lumley turned into a Himalayan icon as she received a thundering ovation from hundreds of Gorkha veterans on the start of six-day visit to Nepal.
The 63-year-old star of television comedy Absolutely Fabulous,in which she played Patsy,a chain-smoking magazine editor who slept her way to the top,had become the face of the campaign to give thousands of Gorkha war veterans and their families the right to settle in Britain.
Gorkhas have been serving as soldiers for the British for nearly 200 years,but Britain had limited their right to settle there,saying allowing in tens of thousands of veterans and their families would cost taxpayers billions. In May,the British government agreed to allow thousands of Gorkhas the automatic right to settle there.
On arrival,Lumley received a rousing welcome from the people who had waited hours to welcome her,carrying banners which read Welcome Joanna,the daughter of Nepal and Gorkha heroes welcome our British heroine. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and President Ram Baran Yadav thanked Lumley for her outspoken campaign. You have championed the cause of Gorkhas. For this social justice,I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to you and to all of your team members, Yadav said.
Earlier in the day,Lumley delivered an emotional address in Katmandus City Hall. She said she was drawn to the cause because her father fought alongside Gorkha soldiers in World War II. She told the crowd: For my first visit to Nepal but not the last,it makes me so proud to know that I have been here accepted as the daughter of Nepal. Thank you for that.
Lumley said she started the campaign for rights for Gorkha soldiers to settle in England in 2004 as she felt the terrible wrongs done to the famed warriors who were prepared and died for the Union Jack.