Kingdom of Redonda

Kingdom of Redonda
Kingdom of Redonda
Motto: Floreat Redonda
Anthem: God Who Gave Our Island Soil
Status Current
Area claimed 400-640 acres (est)
Membership Less than 100. (Population of island itself is zero, not counting goats.)
Date of foundation 1865
Organisational structure Absolute monarchy
Language Spanish, English
Purported currency None
A view of Redonda from the island of Nevis, with Montserrat faintly visible in the distance.

The Kingdom of Redonda is a name for the micronation aspect of the tiny uninhabited Caribbean island of Redonda.

This islet is situated between the islands of Nevis and Montserrat, within the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain, in the West Indies. The island is currently legally a dependency of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. The island is uninhabited, and indeed is more or less uninhabitable since there is no source of freshwater, and most of the island is extremely steep and rocky, with only a relatively small area of grassland at the top.

Redonda also is, or appears to be, a micronation which may, arguably and briefly, actually have existed as an independent kingdom during the 19th century. The title to this supposed kingdom is still contested to this day in a half-serious fashion. The "Kingdom" is also often associated with a number of supposed aristocratic members, whose titles are given out freely by whoever is currently the "King". Currently there are a number of different individuals in several different countries who claim to be the sole legitimate "King" of Redonda.

The idea of the kingdom appears to originate with M. P. Shiel, 1865–1947, an author of fantasy fiction. He claimed that in 1865, his father Matthew Dowdy Shiell, from the nearby island of Montserrat, proclaimed himself to be the rightful, and supposedly legal, "King" of the island of Redonda in order that he might establish his son as the rightful heir to the throne. This story, as first recounted by the son in a promotional leaflet for his books, may be partly or entirely fictional.


History of the "Kingdom"

The history of the "Kingdom" of Redonda is shrouded in doubt and legend, and it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.[1]

M. P. Shiel, an author of works of fantasy fiction, was the first person to ever mention the idea of the "Kingdom of Redonda" and that was in 1929, in a promotional pamphlet for a reissue of his books.[2]

According to one of several different versions of the story, his father, Matthew Dowdy Shiell, a banker from Montserrat, claimed the island when his first son, Matthew Phipps Shiell, was born. Supposedly the father felt he could legitimately do this, because it appeared to be the case that no country had officially claimed the islet as territory. Shiell senior is also said to have requested the title of King from Queen Victoria, and as legend has it, she granted it to him as long as there was no revolt against colonial power.[citation needed] The son (originally named Matthew Phipps Shiell but later known as M.P. Shiel) was supposedly crowned on Redonda at the age of 15 by a bishop from Antigua.[2]

However, the whole story appears to have originated decades later with the son, M.P. Shiel, a fantasy and science fiction writer best known for his 1901 novel The Purple Cloud, and so it is possible that some, or most, or possibly all of the story of his being made king of Redonda, may in fact be pure invention.

In any case, again according to one version of the story, M.P. Shiel in later life gave the title, and the rights of his work, to the writer John Gawsworth (Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong), who seems to have sold the title several times, due to permanent bankruptcy. Gawsworth in turn is considered to have bestowed the title, and the rights to his and Shiel's work, to Arthur John Roberts.

This fact is disputed by John Wyn Tyson who claims to have been bestowed the title by Gawsworth. Tyson was crowned King in 1967 and ruled until he abdicated in favour of King Bob the Bald in 1989. Wynne Tyson consequently went on to pass the literary executorship to Javier Marias of Madrid in 1997.[citation needed]

A quote from King Juan II himself (according to King Robert the Bald[citation needed]):

The legend is and should remain a pleasing and eccentric fairy tale; a piece of literary mythology to be taken with salt, romantic sighs, appropriate perplexity, some amusement, but without great seriousness. It is, after all, a fantasy.[3]

Wynne Tyson later went on to publicly renounce his assumed Kingship of the island on a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Redonda: The Island with Too Many Kings, broadcast May 2007.[4]

List of Kings

  • Matthew Dowdy Shiell, 1865–1880
  • Matthew Phipps Shiell1, 1880 - 1947 (styled as King Felipe)
  • John Gawsworth2, 1947 - 1967 (styled as King Juan I)
  • Arthur John Roberts, 1967 - 1989 (styled as King Juan II)
  • Michael Lawler, of Newport Beach, CA,[citation needed] came across the island during a sailing trip through the Caribbean and supposedly obtained legal paperwork staking the claim on the island nation.

In popular culture

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.[5][6]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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