Bizarre requests to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Some of the more amusing enquiries the FCO received last year...

Picture this, if you will. You’re in Cambodia. You spot a cute monkey and pause to admire. But suddenly the mischievous beast dislodges a large rock which tumbles forth and hits you square between the eyes. It really bloody hurts. Your eyes are watering and your friends are sniggering. You feel wronged. What to do? It’s a pickle.

Some might laugh it off. Others might get cross. But a very select few decide they need compensation and a guarantee that the incident will never repeat itself, and that the organisation which can meet these demands is the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. We kid you not.

Compensation for the monkey incident was just one of many truly bizarre requests made over the last year to the FCO, who have rather gamely shared some of them for our giggling pleasure.

Others included a gentleman in Rome who approached FCO staff to translate a phrase for a tattoo he desired. Another concerned a lady in Tel Aviv who demanded consular staff to order her husband to get fit and healthy so they could have children. And then there was the lady in Beijing, who purchased a pair of football boots but was so distressed with their quality she took it up with the consulate.

The list goes on. A man in Stockholm asked staff to check the credentials of a woman he had wooed online. A man in Montreal approached the consulate for information regarding the colour of a British passport, with the aim of settling a £1,000 wager. And then there was the couple in Kuala Lumpur who tried persuading the FCO to foot part of the bill for sending their children to an international school.

Last year the FCO handled more than 1 million enquiries and helped over 50,000 British people in difficulty overseas, and although some of the above enquiries were good-natured, the FCO is understandably keen to focus on real problems.

Mark Simmonds, Minister for Consular Affairs, said: ‘We are not in a position to help people make travel arrangements or social plans, but we do help those who face real problems abroad. These can include victims of crime, bereaved families who have lost a loved one abroad or Britons who have been arrested or detained. We aim to continue to focus on supporting those who really need our help in the coming year.’

If you are planning or currently enjoying a gap year, check out this dedicated page on the FCO’s website for further information on what the organisation can and cannot provide.