Antony Stokes » Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Where ambassadors live

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For me, leaving Hanoi last week was leaving home. This city of one thousand coffee shops is one of Asia’s most characterful. Hanoi has not yet perfected its infrastructure, conquered its corruption, or hushed its noise. But where else are you hit by the smell from huge vats of pho at five thirty in the morning? Where are banners and lights hung boldly across the streets all year? Where are … Read more »Where ambassadors live

The best job in the British Foreign Office

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The grace of Vietnamese farewells and the hubhub of Noi Bai under reconstruction are my last memories of Hanoi, after three years and eight months as British Ambassador to Vietnam. What a great privilege to hold that position. It is hard to find a better job in the British Foreign Office. Vietnam is an exciting posting for any foreigner. The government has already achieved extraordinary success in taking the country … Read more »The best job in the British Foreign Office

Arsenal wish you a happy year of the Horse

Tet wishes from Arsenal football players

Kieren Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaine and Thomas Vermaelen wish you all Chuc Mung Nam Moi!  Here they are speaking enthusiastic Vietnamese:   I like the video clip: it has a special “family” feel at a family time in Vietnam.  It brings back memories for me of the promotional video before the game in Hanoi, featuring a bowl of Pho in a North London pub.  And of course the brilliant video of … Read more »Arsenal wish you a happy year of the Horse

Warship marks 40 year anniversary

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On a cold and windy morning in Danang last week  this year of celebration and ambition drew towards a spectacular end, as HMS Daring sailed in, the first British warship ever to do so. Britain’s first Defence Attache resident at Hanoi, Group Captain Tim Below, walked up the gangplank with me to be greeted by the ship’s outstanding captain, Commander Angus Essenhigh.  Since General Nguyen Chi Vinh and Lord Astor … Read more »Warship marks 40 year anniversary

Who can be given a 41-gun salute?

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The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun salute in London’s Green Park to mark the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first son. We do not yet know his name, but we do know that he is now third in line to be King. I am back in London for meetings at the Foreign Office. Yesterday afternoon I also had the honour of a meeting with … Read more »Who can be given a 41-gun salute?

Arsenal dreams finally come true for “The Running Man”

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The Arsenal fan who ran for five kilometres alongside the team bus in Hanoi, surviving collisions with a lamp-post and a tree, got the players singing “sign him up” to Arsene Wenger who was sitting at the front.  After leaping onto a motorbike, he was eventually invited on board where the players signed his shirt and took pictures. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny tells the story in a video posted on the … Read more »Arsenal dreams finally come true for “The Running Man”

Arsenal arrive in Vietnam

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I have been told that the most popular football team in Vietnam is Manchester United. But yesterday I found that “MU” have some irrepressible competition. At two o’clock in the afternoon in Hanoi Medical University’s indoor arena, two thousand Arsenal fans from all around the country created a frenzied match-day-like atmosphere even before the team had touched down in Vietnam. If the stadium had been twice the size, no doubt AFCVN, who … Read more »Arsenal arrive in Vietnam

The House of Compassion

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In Lao Cai, in the mountainous North of Vietnam, live ten girls in a small house of rescue.  When I visited recently to announce the opening of “Compassion House”, which we have funded, I heard one of these girls tell a gathering of officials and friends the story of how she had been “trafficked” to China, and sold into marriage at the age of thirteen.  Britain and Vietnam are working … Read more »The House of Compassion

Why is the Queen’s birthday on a different day every year?

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A Vietnamese friend recently asked me, why is the Queen’s Birthday on a different day each year? And it is true: Britain’s National Day is called “The Queen’s Birthday”, but is never held on the Queen’s actual birthday, which is on 21 April.  Instead we celebrate at some other time, depending on the year and the place. My instinctive response is, what do you expect from a country like Britain, … Read more »Why is the Queen’s birthday on a different day every year?

Something we never did before

Ambassador Stokes chaired the online discussion on facebook on safety of journalist on 19 June 2013

Two days ago the British Embassy tried something we had never done before, when I chaired a Facebook discussion on the safety of Journalists. It generated a lot of interest and many thought-provoking comments. Those who commented did so in a constructive and positive spirit, and made this a fascinating experience for me. I have to admit that there were many more questions than answers. I know that not everyone would … Read more »Something we never did before