Saturday, 13 September 2008

Hutt River Principality, Australia

Being the leader of a nation has got to be a tough job. No matter what you do, everyone seems to think you’re screwing them over, and you’ve got all those nasty vital decisions that affect the future of the world to make. Then again, you can have a bit of fun raiding the state coffers and imposing laws that suit you. No more short people holding umbrellas at eye poking-out height, the Black Eyed Peas outlawed, and all trustafarians with dreadlocks who bang on about Thailand could be jailed without trial.
It’s all just ponderings and contemplation though. Most of us will never be in that position anyway unless we take the lead of Leonard Casley.
You’ve probably not heard of him, but he is otherwise known as Prince Leonard, and he rules a micronation called The Hutt River Principality, which is about the size of Hong Kong. Not exactly a major player on the world scene, this self-declared state is nestled within the confines of Western Australia, and its story is pretty damn cool.

History of the Hutt River Principality
Back in 1969, Casley was merely a disgruntled wheat farmer who was pissed off about harsh quotas being imposed upon him. Whilst most farmers would have written letters to their MP, Casley took a more drastic course of action, and declared his land an independent nation. After searching through obscure British laws, he decided that it was perfectly legal to do this, and neither the Western Australian Government nor the Australian Federal Government has sent in the troops to take the land back. It remains the only bloodless secession in history, although the arguments still rumble on. In 1997, Hutt River Principality actually declared war on Australia after another petty squabble, but Canberra couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it.

Hutt River Principality today
What started as a reproach for the people in charge has now snowballed into something very strange. There are over 13,000 citizens of Hutt River Principality worldwide (although very few actually live there), and the breakaway principality has issued currency, stamps and passports. Companies can be registered there, in a similar fashion to those who register iffy businesses in the Cayman Islands to avoid people finding anything out about them. It’s also become a bit of a tourist curiosity.

Getting to Hutt River Principality, Western Australia
About 90km up the main road from Geraldton is where you’ll find the turn off, and you’ll not meet with any border controls. You can, however, get your passport stamped, and buy tacky souvenirs from a shop, where you’ll more than likely be served by Princess Shirley, the wife of the self-proclaimed Prince. Now, how often have you been sold a postcard by a member of a Royal Family?

More information on the Hutt River Province and acquiring dual citizenship.

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