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Historic British Embassy Building in Bangkok Demolished for Shopping Mall

The nearly 100-year-old compound was sold and dismantled to make way for a shopping mall.

Constructed in 1921, the 43,922-square-meter plot of land contained the Ambassador’s residence, two monuments, offices, staff living quarters, tennis courts, a swimming pool, gardens and a private pond, according to The Evening Standard

Britain's Foreign Office (FCO) sold the property in 2018 for about US$570 million dollars, making it the largest land sale in the history of the FCO. Ajoint-venture between Hongkong Land and Central Group, a Thai family-owned real estate and retail conglomerate, purchased the land with construction plans including a shopping mall. 

The funds will be used to help modernize 40 FCO projects around the world, with the British government suggesting the embassy needed to move to a more modern structure to efficiently function. It is currently in the process of moving to several floors of a newer building elsewhere in the city.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was Foreign Secretary at the time of the sale, clarified to the newspaper: "Britain is a leading player on the global stage and I'm 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."

Netizens, however, were not buying the spin, and took to Twitter to air their grievances. A popular thread filled with photos of the destruction featured an array of aggravated responses including: "Brits moving the embassy from a high-profile historic location to a couple of floors in an anonymous office building. Sad, but it will accurately reflect its place in the world after Brexit to be fair," and "shopping malls have done way better for the world than any British embassy could ever do."

Some elements of the embassy have been salvaged, including a monument dedicated to soldiers who died in World War I and one for Queen Victoria. The embassy claimed in a recent Facebook post that the original residency would also be rebuilt on the current property by its new owners and be open to the public.

[Photo via Thai Visa]

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