University of Bristol - Historical Photographs of China reference number: NA01-76. From an album in The National Archives entitled: ‘The Chinese Customs in Peking 1889-1891’. (C0 1069/421. CHINA 1. Social life of Chinese Customs Service in Peking, 1889-1891). Crown copyright image reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England. The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for purpose of the information provided. This image may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, UK. Telephone: 020 8392 5225. Fax: 020 8392 5266. Infringement of the above condition may result in legal action. Photograph by Thomas Child (not signed). In 1860, during the Second Opium War, as the Anglo-French expedition force approached Peking (Beijing), two British envoys, a journalist for The Times and a small escort of British and Indian troopers were sent to meet Prince Yi under a flag of truce to negotiate a Qing surrender. Meanwhile, French and British troops reached the palace and conducted extensive looting and destruction. Later on, as news emerged that the negotiation delegation had been imprisoned and tortured, resulting in twenty deaths, the British High Commissioner to China, Lord Elgin, retaliated by ordering the complete destruction of the palace, which was then carried out by British troops (source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Summer_Palace). This photograph shows the burnt out shell of the Palace of the Delights of Harmony (Xieqiqu), at the Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace), overgrown with plants, photographed several years after the war.
Ruins of Xieqiqu, Yuanming Yuan (圆明园), Beijing, pillaged and burnt down by European soldiers