A Wacky History of One-Man Nations
A Virginia man proclaimed a piece of land in Sudan a new nation so his daughter could be a princess. Turns out, this isn't even close to being the weirdest landgrab in history.
In 1865, a West Indies trader and preacher named Matthew Shiel sailed by an uninhabitable craggy rock near the Caribbean island of Monserrat. Eager to gift his newborn son, also called Matthew, with a royal title, he pronounced the island the Kingdom of Redonda. Fifteen years later, King Felipe I of Redonda was crowned and ruled as an absolute monarch. Despite competing claims made by the British government and nearby Antigua, the rock island maintained its sovereignty.
At least, that was the story told by the boy-king, who would later become a well-known author of science fiction. Perhaps the early royal title set him on a path to success because M.P. Shiel penned some 25 books, most notably The Purple Cloud in 1901, which, a half-century later, was made into a film starring Harry Belafonte. Ironically, another one of his books, The Lord of the Sea, was a critique of private land ownership
The mini-nation managed to survive past Shiel’s reign and today, Redondan’s throne has been bequeathed to predecessors in the literary world (and fought over by the numerous claimants to the top title at any one time). The last monarch, King Bob the Bald, boasted of having a royal navy (you could apply to join with your own boat) and army, based on land in Antigua, at his disposal. Its current leader is British journalist Michael Howorth, known now as King Michael the Grey.