Monday, May 19, 2008

The Kingdom Of Redonda

Sailing Past Redonda, Near Montserrat
16 57.0N 62 20.5W

We are currently sailing from Sint Maarten to Guadeloupe and have just sailed past a large rock - see photo.

The words, bizzare and strange fail to do justice to this place, a very brief excerpt from the history of Redonda may get you intrigued:

"The island of Redonda has been known ever since Columbus as a marker for ships and lately yachts sailing up and down the Eastern Caribbean. But very few people have landed as the island's sheer cliffs plunge straight down into the sea. Ferocious surf and swells pound the one boulder-strewn beach.

Nevertheless, there has been a Kingdom of Redonda for 118 years!

The story began in 1865 when a quarter-Irish Montserratian trader named Matthew Dowdy Shiell was sailing his ship past a lump of rock near home named, by Columbus, Nuestra SeƱora de la Redonda. His Free Slave wife had already presented him with eight daughters and finally a son was born. Shiell was, of course, over the moon about this so being partly descended from Irish kings and a romantic sort of gent he promptly annexed the island so that his newly born son, Matthew Phipps Shiell, could one day become King of Redonda.

On his fifteenth birthday the boy was crowned King Felipe I of Redonda by the Bishop of Antigua. He promptly elected to drop one "l" from his name. Ten years later the British Government officially annexed the island declaring it to be a dependancy of Antigua. But the act of annexation was also declared not to have affected the sovereignty vested in Shiel, and the British Colonial Office tacitly admitted his claim."

For more on how it then became a monarchy passed through generations of literary types and how you too can become an Arch Duke of Redonda try these links!
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