Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Island May Not Exist, but Now It Has a King



Last month, media attention was drawn to Sandy Island (a.k.a. Île du Sable), in the Coral Sea between Australia and New Caledonia when a University of Sydney plate-tectonics surveying ship headed to the island to investigate discrepancies in their charts and found out there was nothing there but open sea.  They had seen the island on Google Maps and Google Earth—shown as being in the territorial waters of New Caledonia and, thus, of the French Republic—but it has also appeared in numerous atlases and other sources.  Nor is this a mere location error.  Sandy Island doesn’t exist and has never existed.  Its posited existence and position were traced first to a 1908 map and then to one by the legendary British explorer Capt. James Cook from 1774.  The island’s non-existence was not very loudly suspected, if at all, but was unconfirmed for centuries.


Now, a German man calling himself King Marduk I has laid claim, on behalf of the State Kingdom of Marduk, to Sandy Island, which he claims does indeed exist and which he names after himself, i.e. King Marduk Island.  The self-styled king, who is named for a Babylonian god (or possibly for the eponymous alleged tenth planet of our solar system “discovered” by the crackpot archaeo-astronomer Zechariah Sitchin), several years ago tried to claim the Principality of Sealand, the disused World War II derrick off the coast of Essex, England, which is one of the modern world’s best known and most successful “micronations.”

His Majesty, King Marduk I
Marduk declared this week on his website (in language that suggests he relies as heavily on Google Translate to render his German into  Englissh as he does on Google Maps to tell him which islands exist or don’t exist): “H. M. KING MARDUK I DECLARE THAT THE SINCE DECADES OF STATE FREE ISLAND TERRITORY UNDER THE NAME CALLED ‘SANDY ICELAND’ [sicTHE PACIFIC LOCATEDALWAYS NO STATE EITHER COUNTRY COURSE LISTENING BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND EAST OF WHICH LOCATED COLONIAL COUNTRY NEW CALEDONIATHE SANDY ISLAND LOCATEDTHOSE LEGAL UNVERWERFLICH NO PHANTOMS ISLANDBUT ACTUALLY EXIST IN POSITION [WGS84] 19°13'6.43"S, 159°55'23:42"E – 19.218451°, 159.923172 ° [UTM] 57K 597040 7874744 INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED LOCATEDFROM A STATE SURVIVE FREE TERRITORY ISWHERE THIS ISLAND SINCE 1922 ON CARD DOCUMENTEDRECENTLY THE UNITED NATIONS IN 2002 TO YOUR DECREE CONFIRMED THIS ISLAND.”

An image from the Kingdom of Marduk website
Other territories Marduk claims for his kingdom (called, in some reference, New Germania) include: much of the eastern Alps, including the Austria’s Vorarlberg state, the Italian region of South Tyrol, Liechtenstein, and parts of Switzerland and Bavaria around, and including, Lake Constance (Bodensee); various localities in the Swiss cantons of Schaffhausen and the cities of Basel and Bern; the entire former Kingdom of Württemberg; the Dogger Bank, the German island of Heligoland, and the artificial island Langlütjen, all in the North Sea; Hamburg and, by extension, the Baltic Sea; the island of Rockall, between Scotland and Iceland (and itself once the location of a publicity-stunt micronation called Waveland); Vatican City; the micronation of Seborga, on the border between Italy and France; parts of Ticino, in southern Switzerland; Jerusalem; and—why aim low, right?—all of outer space.

The former micronation of Waveland, in the North Atlantic
—claimed also by the Kingdom of Marduk.
Little is known about King Marduk himself, but a Swiss journalist who reported recently on Marduk’s royal territorial claims on the town of Büsingen, Schaffhausen, quoted the kingdom’s secretary of state, one Thomas Vogel, as saying—with a kind of wild inconsistency—that his monarch “shuns publicity and does not want to be recognized.  He lives in Tübingen in a stately residence, not a castle.  He has a huge royal fleet with twelve cars for state visits such as Jaguars and Mercedes.  Apart from a Rolex, he has not a lot of wealth.  The king is wise as a professor and lives rather modestly.”  The reporter, Hermann-Luc Hardmeier, who interviewed the bling-laden “Vogel” in Büsingen after his arrival in a limousine, seemed sure that “Vogel” was merely “Marduk” in disguise, but photographs of the monarch do not much resemble the man Hardmeier interviewed.

The Kingdom of Marduk’s secretary of state, Thomas Vogel,
arriving for an important press conference with a reporter from the Schaffhauser Nachrichten
Going back to Sandy Island—the French government has not yet responded to Marduk’s claims on its territory, but then again Paris has also reacted not at all to the fact that an island which it thought it owned now does not exist and what the implications are for its maritime boundaries.  Nor have their been responses from the separatist movement in New Caledonia or from an unrecognized nation which claims waters (which the world grants to Australia) just to the west of “Sandy Island”: the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands.  Theoretically, this could get ugly.

Postage stamps produced by the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands.
It’s nice to finally see the “bear” subculture honored with a stamp.
Here at “Springtime of Nations,” we will keep you posted on any further developments regarding non-existent islands.
[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it some time in 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  (Meanwhile, if you still have money burning a hole in your pocket, an excellent way to support the “Springtime for Nations” blog is by considering donating a volume to the “Springtime of Nations” Research Library via the “Springtime of Nations” Amazon wish list.)]

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