Prince Leonard, Who Formed His Own Micro-Nation Over A Wheat Dispute, Dies Age 93
Prince Leonard, a former Western Australian farmer who used international law to declare his property an independent province in 1970, has died age 93.
The late prince ruled over the Principality of the Hutt River, near Geraldton, for almost 50 years.
"It is with great sadness we announce the passing of the Patriarch of the Principality of Hutt River, HRH Prince Leonard, who passed away peacefully with his family by his bedside," a statement on the principality's website reads.
Prince Leonard -- who abdicated in 2017 -- had been battling emphysema for two decades.
His son Prince Graeme will now lead the principality as it faces its next challenges, which includes a $2.6 million bill from the Australian Tax Office.
“He was a man of small stature but a man of big shoes,” Prince Graeme told Perth Now.
“He was so sharp of mind right to the last 24 hours, it was incredible.
“He’s a man that lived three lifetimes, and he did very well to get to 93.”
Prince Leonard is survived by his seven children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The micro-nation was formed after a dispute over wheat quotas, but evolved into a fully-fledged society with its own currency, flag, national anthem and constitution.
Although the local population is small -- about 17 people, all of whom are members of the royal family -- tens of thousands of people around the world have been issued with citizenship, Prince Graeme told 10 daily last year.
Many of these international residents have sent messages following the passing of Prince Leonard.
"Prince Graeme also wishes to thank all those who have sent messages of love and kindness, your kind thoughts and actions are a blessing during this time and we benefit greatly from them," a message on the website reads.
The principality has become something of a tourist destination over the years, with visitors from around the world stopping to check out the inter-denominational church, post-office and bizarre sculptures.
However, the border is now closed for a three-week mourning period, with government services shut down.
"No visitors will be allowed entry to PHR. No visas will be issued," reads the website.
"No government services will be available. This, of course, means that camping and overnight stays in the principality will be unavailable during this time of mourning. Please respect these wishes during this difficult time."
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