Origins of the British Tunisian Society
Britain’s relationship with Tunisia goes back to 1662 when a treaty was signed with Charles II under which Britain was given a site, at the entrance to the Medina in Tunis, on which to erect a Consulate. Britain used this site, for its Consulate General and, later, Embassy, until 2004 when it opened its new Embassy at Berges du Lac.
This long and warm relationship is commemorated by the plaque placed on the former Embassy building by the British Tunisian Society in 2004
What had been essentially a commercial relationship grew stronger in the mid-19th Century due largely to the influence of the dynamic British Consul-General Sir Richard Wood,
who persuaded the Bey to grant the initial building, land and financial grant to construct today’s beautiful and historic Residence in La Marsa, near Carthage
Tunisia was a French Protectorate from 1881 to 1956, but from 1942 to 1943 was the scene of the culmination of the war in North Africa, involving thousands of British and allied troops, and the final surrender of Axis forces in May 1943, following which General Alexander set up his HQ at the then British Consulate in La Marsa
Lord Alexander developed a deep affection for Tunisia and in 1963, he played a major part in establishing the British Tunisia Society, whose first Chairman was Lord Listowel, former Cabinet member and Governor-General of Ghana.
For the next 45 years the BTS worked to spread greater knowledge of Tunisia in Britain and closer cultural ties in a broad field including archaeology, architecture, natural history and music, as well as promoting closer links in trade and education and tourism. In 2018 it was decided to refound the BTS in order to continue, and build on, the achievements and values of the BTS over its first 45 years.
HE The Tunisian Ambassador, Nabil Ben Khedher, is President of the BTS
Lord Jeremy Purvis is Honorary Patron of the Society
The aims of the Society are:
Further friendly relations and understanding between the people of Tunisia and United Kingdom.
Connect people with a common interest or connection with the UK and Tunisia.
Preserve the centuries-long tradition of close relations between the UK and Tunisia.
Propagate knowledge of Tunisia and the United Kingdom and vice versa – to all those interested.
Building on an ancient friendship between Britain and Tunisia, developing a brighter future