For us travelers, backpackers, digital nomads, gap-yearers and global wanderers of the world traveling inherently means ‘going abroad’. Danny Wallace has taken the ‘going abroad’ notion to a completely new level as he ‘went abroad’ by staying at home and simply declaring his house a brand new country with himself as the King!
Wallace originally tried to start a nation by “invading” Eel Pie Island, a privately owned island in the river Thames in London. With the help of his friend Jon Bond they tried to occupy the island and start their own nation. Bond was chosen for the role having once worked as a security guard at Tesco (and maybe a little bit for his name resemblance with 007), making him “the closest thing Wallace had to an army”. However, the Metropolitan Police were contacted by local people, and Wallace was forced to call off the “invasion”.
In spite of this failure Bond was later named Minister of Defence when Danny did manage to start his own country.
Danny then decided to look for expert help and he visited the Principality of Sealand in the North Sea 13 kilometres (7 nmi) off the coast of Suffolk (UK). Paddy Roy Bates, established Sealand as a sovereign Principality in 1967 with the writing of a constitution and establishment of other national symbols.
Danny’s hopes for his own country rose considerably!
Then he went on to visit Dennis Hope the man who claims to own the moon. If claiming the moon is that easy…..well…now Wallace had unlimited confidence…
If these men could do these things, Danny could as well. On that notion Danny declared his flat to be a sovereign nation on 1 January 2005. As a partly internet-based micronation people could become citizens on the country’s website citizensrequired.co.uk (not functional anymore)
The new country, ruled by King Wallace, got a flag, coat of arms and motto through a design studio. The Latin motto became ‘Die dulci freure’ meaning “Have a nice day”.
The hunt for an appropriate name of the country was something that needed some more time.
The national anthem video was recorded in late March 2005 in Greenwich Park, with the help of some of the early citizens plus members of Join Me, a “collective” begun by the Danny some years earlier in a another epiphany engaged on by him.
Citizens of the new country were invited to declare a room, or some other building or land belonging to them, to be an embassy for King Danny’s country by taking a photograph displaying the country’s flag there.
Danny went on meeting other ‘Royalty’ by visiting the King of Fusa, the reigner of the Kingdom of Fusa in the far West of Norway. He also went to the Principality of Seborga a town in the Italian region of Liguria that claims never to have been a part of the modern Italian state.
More and more inspiration for King Wallace. He still had a major problem to tackle though as his country was still nameless.
His cult following of citizens that had emerged since the declaration of independence brought relief. They brought in thousands of suggestions for names online. Wallace choose his two favourites, “Home” and “Lovely”, and let his citizens decide the winner by online vote. The country was officially named on 2 September 2005 at an invitation-only gathering of citizens held in Leicester Square. The name “Lovely” was chosen and that day instantly became an official holiday of Lovely called a “Lovely Day”.
Wallace visited two other, but very different ‘utopian’ communities: the planned town of Celebration which maintains its pleasantness through strict rules and regulations, and the anarchic self-governing neighbourhood of Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark.
A sombre visit to death row and an interview with the death row chief ” john george” leads him to decide against the death penalty in his country.
When King Wallace struggled to pay his electricity bills, he began to kick-start his country’s economy. He designed Lovely’s own currency, the IOU (Interdependent Occupational Unit), which he showed to Andrew Bailey, the Chief Cashier at the Bank of England. Andrew was not very impressed.
Wallace attempted to submit a song of his own composition – Stop The Mugging And Start The Hugging – as his country’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 2006.
The contest’s scrutineer, Svante Stockselius, met with Wallace and was sympathetic to his cause but informed him that Lovely could not enter the Contest as it had no national television or radio station of its own and therefore could not join the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organiser of the Euro song contest. Wallace then submitted his song to the BBC (which is an EBU member which supports the UK entry to the contest), in an attempt to receive their backing — their judges, however, were unimpressed.
Wallace also attempted to gain official recognition for Lovely at the United Nations, which was established to be the true mark of statehood. These efforts were unsuccessful, largely because of Lovely’s lack of independent territory; Wallace’s own flat being within the UK.
On its peak Lovely had 58,165 citizens registered on its website (Website no longer active).
Currently Danny has abandoned his country by moving to a different house. He lives in the UK now.
At least he got to travel to all sorts of cool super-duper-tiny-micro-countries!
All of Danny’s efforts to start his own country have been filmed and turned into a ‘lovely’ TV series. Watch it below if you are interested in getting the low down of starting your own country
And for all you “wackos” who really want to start their own country a highly recommended read is Lonely Planet’s Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations