Previous to 1891 the name of the various Gurkha regiments had been spelled and anglicised in a variety of ways from the original ‘Gorkha’, including ‘Goorkha’, ‘Gorkah’ and ‘Gourkha’. In 1891 the decision was taken to standardise the spelling to ‘Gurkha’ but examples from before this time are still important heritage pieces and show the uniqueness of naming conventions in different Gurkha regiments, some of which used different insignia and even spelling during the same time periods.
This insignia badge, made of silver and designed to be worn on parade, likely by either an officer or member of the regimental band, provides insight into the earlier history of the 4th Prince of Wales’ Own Gurkha Rifles, or 4th Goorkhas as they were previously known. Raised in July 1857 as the ‘Extra Goorkha Regiment’, they became known as the 4th Goorkha Regiment in October 1861, before becoming 4th PWO Gurkha Rifles in 1924. The regiment served with the British Indian Army until 1947, when, during the process of Indian Independence, the regiment chose to become part of the Indian Army, and became the 4th Prince of Wales’s Own Gorkha Rifles, reverting to the original spelling of the term. The regiment still exists today as the 4th Gorkha Rifles, and serves the Indian Army with bravery and distinction.