Dum Spiro Spero
When I Breathe, I Hope (English)
It's a Hard Land by Keith Kerwin
|near Geraldton, West Australia |
|Official language(s)||English (official language)|
French, Esperanto (per constitution)
|- Prince||Graeme I|
|- Type||- Unicameral|
|Established||April 21, 1970|
|Area claimed||75 square kilometers|
|Population||20 permanent residents and 13,000 passport holders|
|Currency||Hutt River Dollar|
The Principality of Hutt River (formerly the Hutt River Province) is Australia's oldest and most influential micronation. It is located on a large farming property several hundred kilometres north of Perth. The Province was founded on April 21, 1970 by farmer Leonard George Casley (who now styles himself as Prince Leonard), when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia.
The Province claims that its independence has been acknowledged in, among other documents, an Australian Secret letter from the Department of territories in 1989. Hutt River is not officially recognized by Australia, but it has consular relations with several countries (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire) and has Special Envoys in many countries. (Hungary, Spain, Croatia, etc.)
Hong Kong, while not recognizing Hutt River as a country, recognizes it as a place in which a company can be incorporated, though no companies were incorporated in Hutt River on the Hong Kong registry. The Hong Kong Registry, however, were looking at reviewing their list of accredited places for company incorporation after the issue was raised in an adverse manner by Australian media.
In 1969, in response to a long-running dispute with the government of Western Australia over what they saw as draconian wheat quotas, Casley and his associates resorted to a British law, the Treason Act of 1495, which they felt allowed them to secede and declare their independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. Casley states that he nonetheless remains loyal to the Queen. Casley was elected administrator of the new sovereign state by his family and later styled himself His Royal Highness Prince Leonard of Hutt.
In the early 1980's Hutt River Province declared itself to be a kingdom, but soon afterwards reverted to its original status of a principality. At about this time a charismatic individual by the name of Kevin Gale became associated with the Principality, and swiftly rose through the ranks of the nobility to the position of "Prince Regent". Gale, who lived in Queensland, on the other side of the Australian continent from Prince Leonard, progressively effectively took over the Principality's commercial operations, and proceeded to release a veritable flood of stamp and coin issues. Gale's operation also actively sold Hutt River's titles of nobility and knighthoods throughout Europe and North America.
By the early 1990's, Gale's activities had become independent of those of his sovereign in all but name, and the "Prince Regent" regularly hosted large public functions and was associated with high-profile charitable fundraising activities on the Gold Coast. At the time of his sudden death in 1995 he and his associates were allegedly seeking to formally overthrow Prince Leonard as "sovereign", install Gale in his place, and establish the Hutt River Province Principality as an independent state on an island in the Pacific Ocean.
When the extent of Gale's activities finally came to the attention of Prince Leonard, the "Prince Regent" was declared a traitor to the Principality, and posthumously stripped of all his "titles" and "honours". The entire 15-year episode remains highly contentious, and Prince Leonard's administration refuses to even acknowledge it. The Principality's activities since 1995 have been considerably more low-key, although its 30th anniversary, on April 21, 2000, was attended by supporters and media from around the world.
The Australian Government's current position on the Principality is that it is nothing more than a private enterprise operating under a business name. Tourist maps of the area, produced by the state government, note the main compound as a tourist attraction and mention the Principality's claims to independence.
The story of the Hutt River Province Principality's purported secession is well known in Australia, and Prince Leonard is generally admired as a well-intentioned eccentric who embodies a much-admired anti-establishment streak that is thought by many to form an intrinsic part of the Australian national character. For this reason he has been made the subject of a permanent exhibit at Australia's National Museum in Canberra.
Hutt River Province is situated 595 km north of Perth, and is about 75 square km in size. Exports include wildflowers, agricultural produce, stamps and coins, while tourism is also important to its economy.
Although actual residents are very few, the principality claims a world-wide citizenship of 13,000.
It has no standing army, but a number of its citizens have been awarded military commissions, honorary guardsmen attend the Prince on formal occasions, and despite being completely landlocked, it apparently possesses a navy - at least naval commissions have been conferred on supporters of the Province.
It is governed by its founder Prince Leonard and his family, including his wife Princess Shirley and son and heir Crown Prince Ian.
Since December 2, 2004, Hutt River Province Principality has accepted company registrations. At least one company experienced in the registration of entities in traditional offshore jurisdictions (British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands etc.) has been authorized to act as a registered agent for HRPP incorporation.
Despite HRPP not being official recognised as a sovereign nation, passports issued by the Principality have on various occasions allegedly been used to cross international borders, and visas have been issued on HRPP passports by several countries on a case-by-case basis.
When the Hutt River Province seceded, a Bill of Rights was drafted. This Bill of Rights was, as the name suggests, a brief document outlining the rights of "Hutt River" citizens. It also provided for an Administration Board to govern over the Province until a permanent form of government could be established. When Casley declared himself Prince, the Administration Board clause effectively lost effect, and the Hutt River Province Principality became a benevolent absolute monarchy with a Legislation Committee to draft new legislation. In 1997, the Legislation Committee finished a proposal for a constitution and presented it to the Prince and his Cabinet. Although the Prince and Cabinet are still yet to officially adopt and promulgate the proposal, it is not without effect, as there is a decree stating that any constitution will be in effect while still under consideration except for clauses that conflict with the Bill of Rights. To this end, the proposal remains in effect as a sort of provisional constitution, and the Prince and Cabinet do not appear to intend to adopt the constitution very soon.
Prince Leonard is the name and title that has been used by Leonard George Casley (born 1930) and his supporters since his creation of the Hutt River Province Principality, the oldest and most widely known micronation in Australia. Casley purports to be the Sovereign of that entity, which he claims is an independent state - a position that is not supported by the government of Australia.
Casley pursued a number of occupations before purchasing a large wheat farm near Geraldton, West Australia in the 1960s. In 1970, after a long running dispute over quotas with the Australian Wheat Board, he declared the secession of his 75 square kilometer property from the Commonwealth of Australia, based on his unique interpretation of British and Australian constitutional law.
Despite his advancing years Casley is known as a keen-minded "bush lawyer". He is also an adherent of hermeticism, a subject on which he has privately published a number of research papers. Casley was married to "Her Serene Highness Princess Shirley" (nee Shirley Butler) until her death on July 7, 2013, by whom he has seven adult children, among them "His Royal Highness Crown Prince Ian" (Ian George Casley, born 1947), who has been designated as his eventual successor as "Sovereign Prince".
Prince Leonard is well-known in Australia, where he is viewed affectionately as a harmless eccentric whose tenacity in taking on "big government" is admired by many. He is the subject of a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.