Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Prince Has Died

One of the greatest joys of having a blog is that when you see a really absurd story, you can share it. This one is what I blog for:

Nestled near the beaches of the Italian Riviera and the snow-capped Alps sits the tiny principality of Seborga, a place that floats on legends. Over the centuries, plagues and earthquakes have struck the region and missed Seborga, or so the stories say. Some insist that knights took the Holy Grail there.

But the true miracle of Seborga may have been the 46-year reign of Prince Giorgio I, the constitutionally elected royal ruler of its five square miles and 2,000 people, about 350 of whom are enfranchised citizens.

Prince Giorgio, a bewhiskered grower of mimosa flowers from a family of mimosa growers, was seized by a glorious vision: that Seborga was not part of the surrounding Italian nation. It was an ancient principality, cruelly robbed of its sovereignty.

After convincing his Seborgan neighbors of their true significance, Giorgio Carbone was elected prince in 1963. He gracefully accepted the informal title of His Tremendousness, and was elected prince for life in 1995 by a vote of 304 to 4. Voters then ratified Seborga’s independence, which, by the prince’s interpretation, it already had. Prince Giorgio established a palace, wrote a Constitution, and set up a cabinet and a parliament. He chose a coat of arms, minted money (with his picture), issued stamps (with his picture) and license plates, selected a national anthem and mobilized a standing army, consisting of Lt. Antonello Lacala. He adopted a motto: Sub umbra sede (Sit in the shade).

But the principality’s future has suddenly turned cloudy. Prince Giorgio I died at his home in Seborga on Nov. 25 after suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, the principality announced. He was 73. Succession plans are uncertain.

More than 20 countries have recognized independent Seborga, in one fashion or another

Since the Middle Ages, Seborga’s sovereign had been elected, so the princely plebiscite that elevated Mr. Carbone was a return to tradition.

Prince Giorgio accepted no salary, although it is not clear he was offered one. He daily availed himself of ham and cheese from the village shop, a royal perquisite.

Let's see; we have an elected monarch of a country that only marginally exists with a one man army and the wisest motto I've ever found: "sit in the shade"; who can argue with that? That's why I blog.
(h/t to Robert Farley of Lawyers, Guns, & Money, who should be elected the next monarch)

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