Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Hutt River Principality

Australia is full of surprises, the land down under has a different landscape, different species and most certainly a different way of life.

But I had never expected a principality - a royal family, a new currency, a different country within a country.

Entrance to Hutt River Province

The Principality of Hutt River, about 300 miles north of Perth, Western Australia achieved legal status as an independent sovereign state in 1972 having annexed from Western Australia in 1970.

The principality was founded on 21 April 1970 following a dispute over wheat production quotas. The Casley family failed in their bid against the quota, so resorted to the British Treasons Act 1495, which they felt allowed them to secede and declare independence from the Commonwealth of Australia.That loophole has obviously since been removed.

The family succeeded and Leonard George Casley was elected administrator of the new state by his family.After the government threatened him with prosecution, Casley styled himself 'His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt' to take advantage of a Commonwealth law that a monarch could not only not be charged, but that anyone who interfered with his duties could be charged with treason. (They changed this law too surprisingly!)

The principality looks no different from an ordinary Outback farm, the state is about 75 square kilometres (19,000 acres) in size. They have their own currency Hutt River Dollar, stamps and passports. I was only delighted to get my passport stamped! Tourism is their biggest economy.

Hutt River coin

His Royal Highness Prince Leonard I of Hutt is an amazing man to meet, quirky and strange, the tall thin old man is obviously very intelligent and loves to share his unique story with tourists. He is very proud of how he used the law to annex his family's land. He was a genius – I am sure many other countries wish they could have thought of it before him!

In 2008, the Council of the European Union issued a memorandum identifying Hutt River passports among known "fantasy passports ... issued by private organisations and individuals" to which a visa should not be affixed.

A cultural stop in the Hutt River Province
(c) fifiheavey

But Prince Leonard has several documents from countries all over the world which he claims accept his state - he also has a letter from the Queen of England!

The Prince and his impressive Principality shows that it really does pay to read the small print!
This is one crazy pit stop that should not be missed on your tour of Western Australia.

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