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Principality of Hutt River


God Bless The Prince

(The Principality at the Sydney Film Festival)
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    We all know that the above words are part of the national anthem of the Principality of Hutt River. However, not too many occasions arise when they will be heard outside the country. A notable exception happened at the 2011 Sydney Film Festival.

    How did this memorable event come about? Why did hundreds of movie enthusiasts stand up to honour the words and music of another country? 

   The occasion was the showing of “How To Start Your Own Country”. This documentary, produced by Jody Shapiro, gave an interesting account of various micronations around the world. It was clear right from the beginning that audiences showed their appreciation of the subject. In fact, even before the screenings started (it was twice on the programme), people queuing up at the cinema were discussing and questioning what they would see. 

   A large section of the documentary was taken up by the Principality of Hutt River. Interestingly enough, as soon as the name was mentioned, the audience broke into spontaneous applause. Thus showing that the story of this independent country is well and truly alive and appreciated by a great majority. 

   After the presentation of the documentary finished, it was announced that Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley were present and would appear to answer questions. The Sydney Film Festival should be praised for having the insight to invite the royal couple as their guests.

    It is interesting to note that the great majority of the audience remained in the hall. A few of those who left said later that they were sorry for having missed this never-to-be-repeated occasion.

    But before the question-time started, people were asked to stand up for the national anthem of the Principality. Without exception everyone did. Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley appeared on stage, and there were surprised looks about the quality of Jon English’s rendition.

   Then it came to question-time. With his usual sense of humour, Prince Leonard amused and entertained the audience. It is interesting that quite a few people were amazed how serious the secession had been and to what length the population of Hutt River had to go to protect their newly acquired status. 

   However, it became also very clear that the Principality was not only there to stay, but had well and truly achieved independence from Australia. Regardless of what some politicians would like to say. In fact, some of their comments were shown in the documentary. They sounded more like big brother being bitter about having lost the argument and not knowing what to do about it.

William Pitt
Bowral, N.S.W.
23 June 2011




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