Looks like politics as usual in Italy - on a small scale, at least.
Seborga is a hilltop village overlooking the Italian Riviera that for half a century has proclaimed itself a self-governing principality, independent of the rest of Italy.
Locals insist that when it was sold in 1729 to the Savoy dynasty, the deal was not registered properly, so that when Italy was unified in 1861, Seborga was left in a legal twilight zone, belonging to no state.
For the last six years the village of 320 inhabitants has been ‘ruled’ by Marcello Menegatto, 37, a businessman who styles himself His Tremendousness Marcello I, along with his wife, Princess Nina, who is originally from Germany.
His Tremendousness was elected after the death of the principality’s first ruler, a flower grower called Giorgio Carbone who styled himself Prince Giorgio I and declared independence from Rome in the 1960s.
But the peace and tranquility of the five-square-mile kingdom, which lies close to the French border, has been upset by a challenge from a pretender to the throne, a Frenchman called Nicolas Mutte who has given himself the title of His Serene Highness Nicolas I.
Seborga's monarchy is not dynastic, and elections are held every seven years. Prince Giorgio was re-elected every time, but mutterings about Prince Marcello's frequent absences from the village mean his re-election is by no means assured.
With an election due next year, 'Prince' Nicolas has declared that he would do a much better job, enraging Marcello I and his loyal subjects.
. . .
Italy has no intention of recognising Seborga’s independence and firmly disputes its contention that it was not included in the country’s reunification in 1861.
Regardless of the outcome of the princely spat, the true winners are likely to be the inhabitants of the village, who are basking in the attention and confident of drawing more visitors to a region that largely lives off tourism.
There's more at the link.
The 'principality' has its own Web site and its own 'gazette'. Clearly, those involved in 'running' it take it seriously enough. However, not everyone does. According to Wikipedia:
In June 2006 a minor controversy arose when a woman calling herself "Princess Yasmine von Hohenstaufen Anjou Plantagenet", who claimed to be the rightful heir to the throne of Seborga, wrote to Italy's president offering to return the principality to the state. Her claim was contested by the then-prince, Giorgio I (Giorgio Carbone), who asserted that there were no credible sources supporting her.
Gotta love the lady's mixed-up dynastic inheritance! See:
If she managed to accumulate genes from all those houses, her ancestors must have been busy little bees . . .