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Australia hosts independent micronations

She says many had been inspired by Hutt River, which was established in 1970 and has become the benchmark for Australia's micronations thanks to the entrepreneurial zeal of its founder, His Royal Highness Prince Leonard.

“They're a lot of people with very clear grievances. They have awful decisions made with banks and courts and local bureaucracies and they get very very frustrated,” Lattas says.

“They feel like there's a violation of their natural rights and this is one of the languages that's circulating that they can articulate that sense of injustice in.”

The Principality of Wy is a case in point. The arts haven, a property in the leafy Sydney district of Mosman, symbolically seceded from the local council in 2004 in sheer frustration at years of fruitless lobbying for road access.

“Finally we got jack (fed up) of it and we thought, look, this is crazy,” says Wy's “monarch”, Prince Paul. “All councils provide is roads and take away your rubbish so we thought we'll secede — and we did.”

Now Prince Paul and his family, often clad in robes and crowns and bearing the emblems of state, happily host speech days and poetry readings, and are working on a unique cookbook.

“We thought it would be much too vain and lofty to call ourselves a kingdom, so we're just a little principality,” says Prince Paul, real name Paul Delprat, who runs an art school in central Sydney.

“And of course being a principality we are not royal, we're serene. After all the delays we've had from the council, to retain one's serenity is a marvelous thing.”

George's Atlantium meanwhile has grown from a childhood fantasy to an entity with about 1,300 citizens in 110 countries, all run from his inner city apartment.

The emperor, a radio producer for an ambient music show, readily admits that Atlantium's showier elements, such as its stamps and open-handed salute, are a tongue-in-cheek ploy to draw attention and tourist dollars.

“I don't demand that people defer to me, but what I find is that many citizens do without prompting,” George tells AFP. “I never object if it's people doing it unprompted.”

George believes non-bordered states will play a part in mankind's future, and next year he's planning an enthronement ceremony, when he will be crowned with a wreath of metallic laurel leaves.

“The long-term goal is for Atlantium to take its place amongst the global community of nations,” George says. “Whether by the time that happens the concept of the nation state is as prevalent as it is today, I don't know.”

Micronations are not unique to Australia, with self-styled states in Britain, mainland Europe, America and elsewhere prevalent enough to inspire a Lonely Planet guide book on the subject.

But it is in this far-flung country, little more than a collection of convict settlements just 200 years ago, where the concept has really taken hold.

“I think there is in the Australian psyche a love of standing up for yourself,” says Prince Paul of Wy (http://principalityofwy.com).

“We don't take ourselves too seriously, but of course there's this deep undercurrent of a profoundly unfair thing.”

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