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British actress Joanna Lumley has pledged her support to hundreds of elderly Nepalese Gurkhas seeking to retire in Britain.

The Gurkhas are part of a famous regiment of Nepalese soldiers that has fought for Britain since 1815, most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. Although they have fought and died for Britain, a court ruling means those who retired before 1997 have no automatic right to live in Britain. All other foreign soldiers in the British Army can settle in Britain after four years’ service anywhere in the world.

Lumley – who was born in India – joined a protest outside the British High Court yesterday, where the soldiers’ case is being heard.

“My father served alongside the Gurkhas for 30 years,” said the 62-year-old actress. “I am a daughter of the regiment. He would be absolutely overwhelmed with shame and fury that we have behaved this way to the Gurkhas, our most loyal and constant friends. I am never ashamed to be British, but I am ashamed of the behavior of the British legal system towards these brave men. We have discriminated against them dreadfully. It is a stain on our relationship.”

The hearing is expected to last two days, although the ruling will not be released for several weeks.

EDIT: For an update about this story, click here.

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