SYDNEY, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- While they have no armies to defend or assert themselves, at least 20 states have declared independence from Australia, Britain's Telegraph reports.
The first secession was in 1970, when Leonard Casley and his wife, Shirley, became fed up with grain quotas in the state of West Australia, and declared their property to be the principality of Hutt River. The couple are now known as Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley, and issue passports to thousands of tourists each year.
Sydney sales manager George Cruikshank, 38, has set himself up as the Emperor of Atlantium, which consists of his one-bedroom apartment. His Imperial Majesty George II claims nearly 1,000 subjects from Azerbaijan to Peru. Anyone willing to fill out a form and pay $5 for a certificate can become one of his subjects as well.
However, Professor George Williams of the University of New South Wales said the sovereignty issue is pie in the sky.
"These states have no recognition or status under Australian law whatsoever," Williams said. "It's a nice way of thumbing your nose at authority but ultimately it's just a fantasy."