The Hutt River Province, unofficially separate from Australia's laws, has just lost its founding prince.
The Hutt River Province, unofficially separate from Australia's laws, has just lost its founding prince. iStock

Prince Leonard leaves farming legacy like no other

Folks, sad tidings from Hutt River Province, Prince Leonard is dead. The prince is dead! Long live the prince!

For those of you thinking 'Who on earth is Prince Leonard?', here's a potted history.

Years ago, Lenny was a wheat farmer on a block of dirt about 500km north of Perth. Like all heroes he was casually minding his own business until 1970 when the government upset him by introducing wheat quotas, or demanding he pay his taxes.

Whatever it was, Len's eyes popped and he immediately seceded from Australia. An announcement which stunned everyone, including his family.

He declared his property a province - separate from Australia, its laws, and most importantly its bureaucrats, tax officials and politicians - then proclaimed himself Prince.

The funny thing is, he got away with it.

There was talk of sending in the army, but no one was keen to start a micro-civil war. Mind you, that didn't stop Len from declaring war on Oz in 1977. Nobody showed, so the battle didn't rage for several days until Len declared himself victor.

Principality of Hutt River's monarch the late Prince Leonard.
Principality of Hutt River's monarch the late Prince Leonard. SUPPLIED/AAP

For nearly 50 years, he carried on farming, printed his own currency, designed a flag, ceremonial robes, coat of arms and passport and welcomed the many tourists who popped in to visit Australia's unauthorised royal family.

My parents bumped into Prince Leonard during their lap of Oz a few years ago on the main drag of Northampton. The Prince pulled up in his battered station wagon to do some grocery shopping (like a normal person but much more regally) and a tourist recognised him and curtsied.

I don't know what it is about royalty that makes some people go weak at the knees.

Anyway, not long afterwards, Len realised he was getting too old to play monarch, so with the appropriate pomp and pageantry, he lobbed his sceptre to his son Prince Graeme and stepped aside.

Now he's gone. I imagine somebody will make a movie of his life - possibly with Paul Hogan in the lead role.

In the meantime, Australia's cheeky, unofficial royal succession goes on; for now.

Find Greg Bray at gregbraywriter.word press.com or Facebook: Greg Bray - Writer