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Embassy of the United States, London

Coordinates: 51°28′57″N 0°07′54″W / 51.4826°N 0.1317°W / 51.4826; -0.1317
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Embassy of the United States, London

US Embassy in Nine Elms, London
Location33 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW11 7US
Coordinates51°28′57″N 0°07′54″W / 51.4826°N 0.1317°W / 51.4826; -0.1317
Opened1960; 64 years ago (1960)
Nine Elms 2018; 6 years ago (2018)
AmbassadorJane Hartley (since 2022)

The Embassy of the United States of America in London is the diplomatic mission of the United States in the United Kingdom.[1] It is located in Nine Elms and is the largest American embassy in Western Europe[2] and the focal point for events relating to the United States held in the United Kingdom.

There has been an American legation in London since John Adams was appointed the first minister in 1785. The embassy building in Nine Elms overlooks the River Thames and has been opened to the public since 13 December 2017, and was formally opened in January 2018.[3][4] For much of the 20th century and into the 21st, the chancery was in Grosvenor Square, Westminster, London.

Since 1955, Winfield House in Regents Park has served as the ambassador's official residence.


The former embassy chancery in 2014

The American legation in London was first situated in Great Cumberland Place, later moving to Piccadilly, 98 Portland Place (1863–1866),[5] and 123 Victoria Street in Westminster (1883–1893). The legation was upgraded to an embassy in 1893 and remained at Victoria Street until 1912, when it moved to 4 Grosvenor Gardens.[6]

In 1938, the embassy was moved to 1 Grosvenor Square (which later housed part of the Canadian High Commission). During this time, Grosvenor Square began to accommodate several U.S. government offices, including the headquarters of Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the European headquarters of the United States Navy. Following World War II, the Duke of Westminster donated land for a memorial to wartime President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Several additional statues and memorials related to the American and British relationship remain in Grosvenor Square.

The next chancery, also on Grosvenor Square, was designed by Finnish American modernist architect Eero Saarinen and constructed in the late 1950s, opening in 1960. The United States paid only a symbolic peppercorn rent to the Duke of Westminster for use of the land[citation needed].[7] In response to an American offer to buy the site outright, the duke's trustee requested the return of ancestral lands confiscated following the American Revolutionary War, namely the city of Miami.[7] The chancery had nine storeys, three of which are below ground. A large gilded aluminum bald eagle by Theodore Roszak,[8] with a wingspan of over 11 metres (35 feet), is situated on the roof of the Chancery Building, making it a recognizable London landmark.[9] In October 2009, the building was granted Grade II listed status.[10][11] The building served as the chancery until 2017, and has been described as a modernist classic and architectural gem.[12] The building will reopen in 2025 after substantial interior alterations as The Chancery Rosewood, a luxury hotel.[13]


In March 1968, a crowd of some 10,000 demonstrated at Trafalgar Square against US involvement in the Vietnam War, before marching to Grosvenor Square. The Metropolitan Police had attempted to cordon off part of the square nearest to the embassy and there was violence as the crowd broke through the police line. Police horses were used to regain control. 200 demonstrators were arrested and 50 people needed hospital treatment including 25 police officers, one of them with a serious spinal injury.[14] In October of the same year, during a demonstration organised by the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, a splinter group of 6,000 demonstrators returned to the square. A thousand police officers formed a cordon that the protesters failed to breach and remained relatively peaceful until the crowd began to disperse when there was disorder in the neighbouring streets.[15]

Thousands of protesters marched on the embassy as part of a worldwide anti-racism demonstration following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.[16][17][18]

Security concerns[edit]

Security at the Grosvenor Square embassy was tightened in the 1980s and 1990s following successive terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. It was further increased after the September 11 attacks in 2001. A massive security operation at the embassy saw one side of Grosvenor Square closed to public access by car, and armed roadblocks were stationed outside the building. On 29 August 2002, Kerim Chatty, a Swedish citizen of Tunisian descent, was arrested at Stockholm-Västerås Airport trying to board a Ryanair Flight 685 destined for London Stansted Airport with a loaded gun in his luggage. Anonymous intelligence sources cited in the media claimed that the man was planning to hijack the aircraft and crash it into the United States embassy in London, using the rooftop eagle to identify it from the air. Sweden's Security Service, Säpo, denied the claims and called the reports "false information".[19] The man was subsequently cleared of all terrorism-related charges.[20]

The security threat against the embassy prompted the U.S. government to consider moving the embassy. Several British media outlets reported that the U.S. government had wished to use Kensington Palace as their embassy, which allegedly had been vetoed by Queen Elizabeth II, as several members of the British Royal Family have their residences there. The embassy "strenuously denied" the reports, and a spokesman for Buckingham Palace reported that no formal request had been made.[21] Another possible option was Chelsea Barracks, for which the U.S. Embassy made an unsuccessful bid in February 2007.[22]

New building[edit]

American Embassy nearing completion of construction, as seen from Pimlico, across the River Thames

On 8 October 2008, the embassy announced a conditional agreement with the real estate developer Ballymore Group to purchase property for a new embassy site on the South Bank of the River Thames in the Nine Elms area of the London Borough of Wandsworth.[23] The site lies within the Vauxhall/Nine Elms/Battersea Opportunity Area as set out in the London Plan. The proposed plan would only go forward if approved by the United States Congress and by the local planning authority.[24] The Northern line extension to Battersea includes new stations at Battersea and Nine Elms, combined with major local development. The United States Department of State announced in January 2009 that it was choosing among nine architectural firms, all "modern" and "upmarket", to replace the ageing embassy headquarters.[25] In March 2009, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations announced that four architectural firms had been selected for the final phase of the design competition.[25] By law, the architect for a U.S. embassy must be an American firm with "numerous security clearances".[25]

View of the US Embassy building from Ponton Road with the Embassy Gardens Sky Pool in the background

In November 2009, the U.S. government conditionally agreed to sell the lease of the Grosvenor Square Chancery Building to Qatari real-estate investment firm Qatari Diar, which in 2007 purchased Chelsea Barracks.[26] Though the price was undisclosed, the lease's worth was estimated at £500 million in July 2000.[27] The development value of the property was reduced when the building was given Grade II listed status, requiring developers to maintain its current design. The building is now one of Mayfair's 238 listed buildings and monuments.[28][29] In 2016, plans were approved for the conversion of the building into a hotel.[30]

View of the US embassy building from Nine Elms Lane

On 23 February 2010, the U.S. government announced that a team led by the firm of KieranTimberlake had won the competition to design the new embassy building and surrounding green spaces.[31] The winning design resembles a crystalline cube, with a semi-circular pond on one side (called a "moat" by The Times)[32] and surrounded by extensive public green spaces[33] and the Embassy Gardens housing development.

Ground was broken on 13 November 2013, and the building opened to the public on 13 December 2017.[34][35] US President Donald Trump had been expected to visit in February 2018 to undertake the official opening of the new embassy but, in January 2018, announced he would not make the trip. Trump publicly criticized the cost of the new embassy and its location, as well as the apparent price received for the sale of the lease of the building in Grosvenor Square, blaming the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, for making what he referred to as a "bad deal".[36] However, the decision to move the embassy was made before the Obama administration.[37]

Mission leaders[edit]


Jane Hartley was sworn in as the current United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom on 27 May 2022.[38] Winfield House in Regent's Park has been the official residence of the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom since 1955.

Other diplomatic staff[edit]

Embassy sections[edit]

There are also American consulates general in Belfast and Edinburgh, a Welsh Affairs Office in Cardiff, and a contact centre in Glasgow.

Previous embassy chancery locations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The London Diplomatic List" (PDF). 14 December 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 December 2013.
  2. ^ "US embassy moving to south London". BBC News. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  3. ^ McKenzie, Sheila (16 January 2018). "Billion dollar US embassy opens in London". CNN. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  4. ^ [1]U.S. Embassy London
  5. ^ Derek Sumeray and John Sheppard, London Plaques (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011; ISBN 0747809402), p. 53.
  6. ^ A. Holmes and J. Rofe, The Embassy in Grosvenor Square: American Ambassadors to the United Kingdom, 1938–2008 (Springer, 2016; ISBN 1137295570), p. 2.
  7. ^ a b Thomas, Daniel (12 January 2018). "Bad deal! Trump's nose for property piques London". Financial Times. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  8. ^ "The American Embassy London Chancery Building". US Embassy and Consulates in the United Kingdom. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  9. ^ "US embassy moving to south London". BBC News. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  10. ^ Historic England. "United States of America Embassy (Grade II) (1393496)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  11. ^ Sherwin, Adam (23 October 2009). "US sale plan spoilt as its London embassy is listed". The Times. London. Retrieved 4 November 2009.(subscription required)
  12. ^ T.A. (26 September 2017). "The American embassy building in London is a modernist classic". The Economist.
  13. ^ "The Chancery Rosewood | Rosewood Hotels & Resorts".
  14. ^ "On This Day – 17 March – 1968: Anti-Vietnam demo turns violent". BBC News. 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  15. ^ "On This Day – 17 March – 1968: Police clash with anti-war protesters". BBC News. 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  16. ^ "George Floyd death: Thousands gather outside US embassy in anti-racism protest". Sky News.
  17. ^ Topping, Alexandra; Sabbagh, Dan; Carrell, Severin (7 June 2020). "Mass anti-racism protests take place in cities across the UK". The Guardian.
  18. ^ "Thousands turn out for UK anti-racism protests". BBC News. 7 June 2020.
  19. ^ Whitaker, Raymond; Hetland, Jarle; Carrell, Severin (1 September 2002). "Hijack suspect had flight training in US". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
  20. ^ "Sweden drops hijack inquiry". BBC News. 30 October 2002. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
  21. ^ "US 'eyed royal palace'". BBC News. 17 August 2003. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  22. ^ "US Embassy bids for Chelsea Barracks". The Times. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  23. ^ Lee, Matthew (2 January 2009). "US looks upscale for London embassy design". Washington: Fox News Channel. Associated Press. Retrieved 4 November 2009. [permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "U.S. Takes First Steps Toward Embassy Relocation" (Press release). Embassy of the United States in London. 2 October 2008. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  25. ^ a b c "Department of State Selects Final Architectural Firms To Prepare Designs for the New London Embassy" (Press release). Embassy of the United States in London. 10 March 2009. Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  26. ^ O'Connor, Rebecca (3 November 2009). "Qataris buy US Embassy building in London". The Times. London. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  27. ^ Bourke, Chris (3 November 2009). "U.S. Embassy Building in London Sold to Qatari Diar". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  28. ^ "National Heritage List". English Heritage. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  29. ^ "US embassy sold to Qatari group". BBC News. 3 November 2009. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  30. ^ Farrell, Sean (16 November 2016). "Qatar wins approval to turn US embassy in London into hotel". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  31. ^ Kennicott, Philip (24 February 2010). "KieranTimberlake chosen to build 'modern, open' U.S. Embassy in London". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  32. ^ Philp, Catherine (24 February 2010). "US diplomats add a moat to their expenses at $1bn London embassy". Times Online. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  33. ^ "New U.S. Embassy in London". KieranTimberlake ISO. 23 February 2010. Archived from the original on 18 November 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  34. ^ "U.S. Mission Breaks Ground for New Embassy in London". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 1 September 2014.
  35. ^ Gray, Melissa (3 November 2009). "Qatari firm buys U.S. Embassy building in London". CNN. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  36. ^ "Donald Trump cancels February visit to UK". BBC News. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  37. ^ "Skeptics rebuttal of Trump claims". skeptics.stackexchange.com. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  38. ^ "Ambassador". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom. Retrieved 28 June 2022.

External links[edit]