1860-1899 | Looting and plunder | Myanmar

28 NOVEMBER

BRITISH TROOPS LOOT BURMA’S ROYAL PALACE AT MANDALAY

‘View looking east from the watch tower of the palace.’ – The London Illustrated News, 1 May 1886, p. 455.

[ 28 November 1885 ]

After leading British troops into Mandalay, the Royal capital of Burma, General Prendergast immediately organized the methodical looting of the Royal Palace, although some drunken soldiers decided instead to burn down the Royal Treasury with its priceless collection of gold-bound palm-leaf manuscripts detailing the genealogical records of the Burmese nobility.1 The plundering of the palace continued for several days. Some of the royal artifacts were sold off and raised 900,000 rupees, although the Burmese king’s crown and the best of the gems were taken back to London. The crown and gems were presented to Queen Victoria, including the Nga Mauk  ruby which was the size of a duck egg and said to have been ‘worth a kingdom.’  No one knows this gem’s current whereabouts, but it is believed to still be retained in Britain as part of the Royal Collection.2

FOOTNOTES

  1. Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire: 1781-1997, Jonathan Cape, London, 2007, p. 237.
  2. Alex Bescoby, Who Stole Burma’s Royal Ruby, BBC News 2 November 2017 accessed online on 31/10/2018 at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/who_stole_burmas_royal_ruby

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