Principality of Hutt River
Principality of Hutt River
Motto: Dum Spiro Spero
("While I Breathe, I Hope")
and largest city
|Official languages||English (de facto), French and Esperanto (per constitution)|
|Ethnic groups |
|Prince Leonard I (first)|
Prince Graeme I (last)
• Independence from Australia
|21 April 1970|
• Dissolved and rejoined Australia
|3 August 2020|
|75 km2 (29 sq mi)|
|Currency||Hutt River Dollar, tied 1:1 with Australian Dollar|
|Date format||/ /|
- - (AD)
|Today part of||Australia|
The Principality of Hutt River, often referred to by its former name, Hutt River Province Principality was an Australian micronation located on a large farming property several hundred kilometres north of Perth. Hutt River was founded on 21 April 1970 by farmer Leonard George Casley (Prince Leonard I) when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia. Despite lacking official recognition from Australia and other sovereign nation-states, the Province claims that its independence has been acknowledged in several documents originating in the Australian government.
In February 2017, at the age of 91 and after ruling for 45 years, Prince Leonard I abdicated the throne in favor of his youngest son, Graeme (Prince Graeme I). Prince Leonard I died on 13 February 2019. On 3 August 2020, the Principality of Hutt River rejoined Australia.
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In 1969, in response to a long-running dispute with the government of Western Australia over wheat quotas, Casley and his associates declared independence from the Commonwealth of Australia, claiming the Treason Act of 1495 allowed them to do so. Casley states that he nonetheless remains loyal to the British monarchy. Casley was elected administrator of the new state by his family and later styled himself "His Royal Highness Prince Leonard of Hutt."
In the early 1980s, Hutt River Province declared that it had become a kingdom, but soon afterward reverted to its original status of a principality. During this period 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 across the continent in Queensland, progressively took control of 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 noble titles and knighthoods throughout Europe and North America.
By the early 1990s, 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, 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 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 position on the Principality was that it was 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 was 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.
In December 2019, citing declining revenue from agriculture as well as a drop in tourist numbers, the Principality issued a media release to announce that it would be closing its borders with effect from 31 January 2020. The Principality would no longer accept visitors, would cease to issue entry and exit visas, and would stand down most government services and offices for the duration of the hiatus. On 3 August 2020 the Principality formally dissolved, amidst disputes with the Australian Taxation Office demanding the Principality pay millions in unpaid taxes across its 50-year history. The Principality's owned land will be sold off to settle the tax disputes.
Hutt River Province Principality was situated 595 kilometers (370 mi) north of Perth and covered an area of about 75 square kilometers (30 mi^2). Exports included wildflowers, agricultural produce, stamps, and coins. Tourism was also important to the Principality's economy.
Although actual residents are very few, the principality claimed a world-wide citizenry of 13,000 individuals.
Hutt River had no standing army, but a number of its citizens have been awarded military commissions, and honorary guardsmen attended the Prince on formal occasions. Despite being completely landlocked, the Principality had conferred naval commissions to supporters of its supporters.
Since 2 September 2004, Hutt River Province Principality accepted company registrations. At least one company experienced in the registration of entities in traditional offshore jurisdictions (the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, etc.) was authorised to act as a registered agent for HRPP incorporations.
Despite HRPP not being officially recognised as a sovereign nation, passports issued by the Principality had allegedly been used to cross international borders, and visas had been issued on HRPP passports by several countries on a case-by-case basis.
When the Hutt River Province declared its secession, a bill of rights for the country was drafted. Besides establishing the rights of Principality 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 he created 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 several occupations before purchasing a large wheat farm near Geraldton, Western 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 kilometre 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 several research papers. Casley is married to "Her Serene Highness Princess Shirley" (nee Shirley Butler), 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.
- "Hutt River micro-nation founder Prince Leonard dead aged 93". PerthNow. 13 February 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
- White, Nic (3 August 2020). "Principality of Hutt River dissolves after 50 years of 'independence' from Australia". MailOnline. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
- Torre, Giovanni (3 August 2020). "Hutt River micronation rejoins Australia after 50 years of independence". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
- "Mini-states Down Under are sure they can secede", by Nick Squires,The Daily Telegraph (UK), 24 February 2005.
- "If at first you don't secede…", by Mark Dapin, The Sydney Morning Herald — Good Weekend, 12 February 2005, pp 47–50
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