A pond not far from Langstone Harbour in Portsmouth seems an unusual location for a rip in the fabric of international affairs. But as the site of a new, self-proclaimed nation, Baffins Pond (now known as the Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles) has achieved an importance far greater than its tiny area would suggest.
The Lagoan Isles are just one example of the many strange and improbable ‘micronations’ that have been declared in (and around) Britain, and that feature in a new book, Micronations - The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations.
From the infamous Principality of Sealand, located on an old sea fortÊ in the North Sea off the coast of Britain, to comedian Danny Wallace’s nation of Lovely, which now boasts an impressive 58,000 citizens, micronations are self-declared countries that operate without the approval - and often without the knowledge - of the British
government. These rogue states typically exist with an agenda that puts them at odds with the recognised nation surrounding them.
The nation of Lovely exists to be…well…lovely, although its noble aims are clouded by its slightly unnerving motto: “All are welcome, none may leave!” The Copeman Empire, located in a small caravan in Sheringham, exists largely to give its leader HM King Nicholas I a platform to publicise his desire to marry Zara Phillips (or a lookalike). He also sells knighthoods on the internet for a small sum. And King Adam from the Sovereign Kingdom of Kemetia, 20 minutes north of Portsmouth, doesn’t appear to have any real reason to exist at all.
Despite their diminutive sizes, micronations can certainly punch above their weight in international affairs: the Principality of Sealand received a diplomatic delegation from Germany; the Sovereign Kingdom of Kemetia has ruffled feathers by assessing land-grab opportunities in Ecuador, Belize, the Philippines, Polynesia and the US whilst Lovely has more citizens than many recognised nations, including Lichtenstein, Monaco and Tuvalu. Across the globe, an area in Florida has been reclaimed on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, with Acting Governor-General Robert Duke of Florida basing the claim on the proclamation of 1763, where Britain won the region as spoils from the French and Indian War. The Dominion of British West Florida is regarded (by itself) as a stronghold for British loyalists in North America.
Micronations - The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations acknowledges the increasing popularity of Micronations as tourist destinations. Lonely Planet spokesperson Tom Hall says of the new guide, “we truly believe that Micronations are an untapped tourism resource and, if we have anything to do with it, should become the destination of choice for adventurous travellers, those looking for something just that little bit different and especially those who’ve already ticked the 192 UN-recognised nations off their lists.Ê Many travellers have visited Australia, but how many can say they’ve visited Hutt River Province Principality, Australia’s nearest neighbour and the second largest country on the continent?”