On This Day

The Day Myanmar's Last King Surrendered to the British

By Wei Yan Aung 29 November 2019

YANGON—On this day 134 years ago, King Thibaw, the last monarch of Myanmar, surrendered to the British, marking the fall of all of Myanmar to British colonial rule. The British had already come to occupy southern Myanmar following the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1825 and the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852.

The British began their third war on Nov. 14, 1885 in order to gain access to trade with China and take control of upper Myanmar before their French rivals. By Nov. 28, the British had surrounded the royal capital in Mandalay.

The following day, King Thibaw surrendered to British commander Sir Harry Prendergast and was sent into exile to India, eventually ending the monarchy in Myanmar. The king died in exile at the age of 59 in India. The British then exercised a divide-and-rule policy for the next 60 years, effectively dividing Bamar-majority areas from ethnic-majority states.

Myanmar would regain independence from the British in 1948 as a consequence of World War II and increased political awareness among Myanmar people. Myanmar was then left with a legacy of long-running civil war.