I’m feeling in a mood for trivia today. Perhaps you are, too, right now as you Google-search for a superior London relocation agency to assist you with renting a flat when you move from America, Canada, or anywhere else on the globe. As you conduct your research, there is a lot that you need to know in order to prepare for a UK relocation (see our posts in the categories “visas, banking, & other logistical issues,” for instance).
And then there is a lot that you don’t really need to know, that may be utterly useless to your ongoing existence, really. And that is what I am proud to bring you today.
Okay, first, need-to-know information for an American expat—where your embassy is located:
U.S. Embassy, London
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
Anyone who has already been there (including moi, during my passport/visa-replacement saga following purse theft) can testify that it…is…an eyesore. Team America loses 500 points for creativity. It’s a sight that would make even George Washington’s wooden teeth ache. They are, however, in the process of a building redesign.
And now for the excitedly promised needless-to-know information:
Flipping through the book, London’s Strangest Tales, I just learned…
“[I]n the late 1950s the Duke of Westminster agreed to allow the Americans to demolish the whole of the west side of [Grosvenor] square so they could put up the terrible building we see today, but the siting of the American Embassy led to one of the most bizarre and protracted processes of negotiation ever seen here.”
Go U.S.A.! 🙂 Anyways, all around the globe, our American government owns the land on which its embassies reside. In the case of London, however, the land is owned by the Grosvenor family, who evidently never sell. And why would they, when their property holdings (300 acres in central London alone) include much of the posh Mayfair and Belgravia. As landowner, the Duke of Westminster rejected the U.S.’s request, though after the States’ appeal to Parliament he did make the cheeky compromise that the U.S. could purchase if it returned the land that it stole following the War of Independence. As this would mean coughing up a lot of New York and Maine, the U.S. said thanks, but no thanks.
“[T]hey backed down and the Duke of Westminster allowed them a 999-year lease. And that explains why the embassy in London is the only American embassy built on land not owned by the United States.”