Kingdom of Redonda – Antigua and Barbuda - Atlas Obscura

Kingdom of Redonda

A hotly contested micro-nation off the coast of Montserrat. 


It would be ideal to have hard evidence about the history of Redonda. But unfortunately, reality and legend have blurred over the last 150 years, and now the world is left to deal with an island micro-nation, playing host to conflicting claims to a throne that may or may not be legitimate.

According to his progeny, the Kingdom of Redonda was founded by Matthew Dowdy Shiell and was done so in a legal manner. In 1865, Shiell, who had noticed a seemingly unclaimed and unpopulated island in the Caribbean near Montserrat, put forth a petition to Queen Victoria to become king of the Island. The Queen consented, and a line of kings was created.

Shiell’s son, a science fiction writer, took his kingship and ran with it, spreading the word about Redonda in pamphlets that many took as complete fiction. Shiell’s son may have done irreparable damage to the legitimacy of the island by simply being involved, but nonetheless, Redonda’s notoriety spread. When Shiell’s son died, he left the island and title of king to a man named John Gawsworth, who changed the history of the island forever.

Often penniless, Gawsworth was known to sell the title of king multiple times. While this did well to fatten his pocketbook, Gawsworth also appointed multiple monarchs, settting up for huge Redonda drama in the 20th century. In 2007, the last man to claim the title of King of Redonda renounced his claim to the BBC. However, Redonda was not yet out of the news.

Later in 2007, a pub in England claimed to be an embassy of Redonda to gain diplomatic immunity from a smoking ban. The last sources on the conflict state that the pub’s owner was in fact given knighthood by the latest king of Redonda.


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August 11, 2013

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