The British Embassy Bangkok: a look back before moving on

by Expat Life
The British Embassy in Bangkok

The British Embassy Bangkok is truly one of the most spectacular British properties overseas. The 43,922 square metres of land accommodates the Ambassador’s residence, 2 monuments, offices, staff living quarters, tennis courts, a swimming pool, greenery and a private pond. In the heart of Thailand’s luxury retail district, it contrasts with other tall structures. It is a symbol of soft power from the colonial era in the midst of the modern day quest for economic development.

In January 2018, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced its sale for £420 million, the biggest land deal ever for the FCO up to the time of this publication. This year the Embassy will relocate to a modern office space, in the same fashion as many of its foreign counterparts whose governments also decided that it is the right time to realise their return on investments.

Queen Victoria Memorial in Bangkok
Queen Victoria Memorial in the compound of the British Embassy Bangkok, 2019 (Courtesy of Kridtidej Sawangcharoen)

However, such an impressive property comes with great maintenance costs. When Muir noted that the offices in the adjacent buildings were in disrepair, he recommended that “we ought not to spend any more money on patching this deplorable mess and that a scheme should be worked out for entirely rehashing the offices”. Interestingly, a similar opinion re-emerged five decades later when Boris Johnson, then Foreign Secretary, said that he was “determined to ensure that our diplomats have all the necessary tools to do their job effectively. This includes working in modern, safe, fit-for-purpose premises not just in Bangkok but around the world.”

The proceeds from the sale of the compound will be used to relocate the British Embassy in Bangkok this year and improve other British Embassies around the world. Another milestone in British diplomatic endeavour, as we invest in the future while honouring our heritage through reminiscence.

Written by: and , Posted on: Categories: Foreign affairs and diplomacy, The National Archives

To read the whole story and history of the British Embassy in Bangkok click here.

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