Column:Student bestowed title by micronation
Hannah Alkadi, Lady of Sealand. The Maroon
My 20th birthday gift is something to affirm my independence and growing responsibility - so what better gift than buying a royal title online?
No, that isn't a scam and there's no need to e-mail me about it - however, I welcome any and all birthday wishes. I have forsaken the "-teen" ending to my age in exchange for the ever-closer adult world of self-reliance, jobs and taxes.
The Principality of Sealand, a micronation off the coast of England, sells titles ranging from £24.99 to £199.99. One can choose from Lord or Lady, Baron or Baroness, and Count or Countess. Ed Sheeran, an English singer-songwriter, is a Baron. I myself chose "Lady" due to its price - so now I am Lady Hannah Alkadi of Sealand.
What exactly are micronations? They are made up of people that have claimed their own territories. However, no existing micronation is formally recognized by larger nations.
There are many more micronations aside from Sealand, all of them founded for different reasons. We have four around the United States: the Conch Republic (Key West), the Kingdom of Talossa (near Milwaukee, Wis.), the Dominion of British West Florida and the Republic of Molossia (near Reno, Nev.). They vary in customs, holidays and languages. Some of them even offer free citizenship and a chance to tour the country.
I chose to be a Lady of Sealand because it was the first micronation that I found out about and whose history I first researched. It's an ex-British war fortress off the coast of Essex. When World War II ended, England had no use for the fortress that is now Sealand anymore. Roy Bates, a former major in the British Army, stumbled upon the fort while looking for a place to host his pirate radio.
Bates declared the fortress an independent country on Sept. 2, 1967, as a birthday present for his wife, who became his official princess.
Today, Sealand is ruled by Bates' son, Michael Bates, and the rest of his family. Sealand boasts their own football team - soccer, for us Americans - currency, flag, stamps and even their own anthem.
A record-breaking 11th Everest summit climber, Kenton Cool, took the Sealandic flag to the top of the tallest mountain on land. Fettes Brot, a German hip-hop band, filmed their music video "Echo" in Sealand - which you can watch on YouTube. Bates' grandson recently had a royal wedding and will soon be expecting a royal baby. There's also been talks of filming a movie about Sealand.
Does this mean I'm any less American for involving myself so deeply in smaller nations? Should I quit my news network, Micronation Information, because it makes me less patriotic to my birth country?
Don't be mistaken - I love America and being American. I think the ability to be able to create your own country and freely join others is a testament to democracy. I enjoy being able to communicate with citizens of one country who are also presidents or queens of another. Who knows if I'll do the same thing as I age and mature.
For now though, I am simply a humble Lady.
Hannah Alkadi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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