Redonda

Redonda is a very small, uninhabited Caribbean island or islet which is politically a part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda [ [http://www.ab.gov.ag Government of Antigua and Barbuda Constitution] ] , in the Leeward Islands, West Indies.

This small island lies 56.2 km (34.9 miles) southwest of Antigua, in the waters between the islands of Nevis and Montserrat. Redonda is closer to Montserrat than to any other island; it is located at 22.5 km (14 miles) northwest of Monserrat, and 32 km (20 miles) southeast of Nevis.

The island is a remnant of the cone of an extinct volcano, and it protrudes steeply from the sea, mostly as sheer cliffs. The land area measures somewhere between 1.6 km² (400 acres) and 2.6 km² (640 acres). The highest point is 296 m (971 feet).

History

Christopher Columbus discovered Redonda in 1493 on his second journey. He claimed it for the Spanish crown, but did not land there. He named the island "Santa María la Redonda", meaning Saint Mary the Round, reflecting the island's apparent profile when viewed from the side. In the 1860s, the island became a British possession.

The tiny island of Redonda is internationally known, in a minor way, for a curious on-going myth of the "Kings of Redonda", a story which interweaves fact and fiction. According to a (possibly imaginary) version of events, first recounted decades later by M.P. Shiel, an author of fantasy novels: in the year of his birth, 1865, his father Matthew Dowdy Shiell, from Montserrat, decided to celebrate his first male child by arranging (supposedly legitimately) for the boy to be crowned King of Redonda at the age of 15, in a ceremony purportedly carried out on the small island by a bishop. M.P. Sheil, the son and author, was the first person to ever mention the idea of the "Kingdom of Redonda" and that was in a promotional leaflet for his books. Since then, the title has been passed down, and continues to the present day. For a period of time the "Royal" lineage of Redonda had a more or less solely literary theme, with the title being given to writers and the like, such as John Gawsworth and Jon Wynne-Tyson (who later tired of the trouble the position caused him). The current holder of the title is William I (William Timlin) who received by Deed of Irrevocable Covenant September 1, 2008. He has since proclaimed the Kingdom an Empire and has forbidden the title' transfer in perpetuity. The Title has now become hereditary and will pass to his children.

During the decades after the 1860s, the rich guano (phosphine oxide) deposits of Redonda were mined for fertiliser, with an annual yield of up to 7,000 tons. Only during this time was the island inhabited, by workers. The population was 120 in 1901. During the First World War, the mining operations ceased, and the workers left the island, which has remained uninhabited since then. Two stone huts still stand from the time when the island was occupied. Redonda became a dependency of Antigua and Barbuda in 1967.

In 2007, the Wellington Arms pub in Southampton, England, attempted to declare themselves an embassy of the "nation" of Redonda, in order to gain diplomatic immunity from a nationwide ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces, including pubs. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/6246006.stm "Pub 'embassy' dodges smoking ban"] , BBC.co.uk. 27 June 2007. Accessed 21 Dec 2007.] [ [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=464540&in_page_id=1770&ito=newsnow Pub landlord fights smoke ban by declaring his boozer an embassy] , Luke Salkeld, "Daily Mail", URL accessed 26 June 2007.]

The island is currently uninhabited but for wildlife and a flock of feral goats, who manage to survive on the poor grazing on top of the island. Scientists from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory [http://www.mvo.ms/] visit in a helicopter periodically; they are using Redonda as an observation point from which to do measurements of the Soufrière Hills active volcano on Montserrat.

References

*loc
*factbookThe claim by William Timlin is spurious and is enertegically denied by the Citizens of Redonda. The current holder of the title is William Gates - fifth King of Redonda who received by Deed of Irrevocable Covenant October 26th 1989. He has since proclaimed the Kingdom an Empire. Transfer is in perpetuity. The Title has now become hereditary and will pass to his children.

External links

* [http://www.antiguamuseums.org Antigua and Barbuda Museum]
* [http://www.guyfletcher.co.uk/guyedit/redondofolder/redonda.html Day trip to Redonda]


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