Tue

Aug

517:23

This kingdom is a stage (but its subjects are more than mere players)

 
There are two versions of history on the island of Elleore: the real one and theirs. Sorting out which is which isn't always that easy. But that's all part of the fun, say its subjects

The history of the Kingdom of Elleore dates back to 1944. Or 944.

Or, rather, its history begins in 1944 and 944. Because like just about everything about Elleore, there is the real version of the story and their version of the story. If you aren’t one of the kingdom’s 250 or so subjects, sorting out which is which is frustrating. If you are a subject, it’s all a part of the fun.

A few facts first: The Kingdom of Elleore isn’t an officially recognised entity. But it does exist. It’s got a Wikipedia entry and it is listed as one of the world’s smallest micronations. Small it is: it occupies an island in Roskilde Fjord measuring 15,000 square metres (Vatican City, measuring 440,000 square km, is a giant by comparison). Their territory is actually a bird sanctuary, but environmental authorities have given them permission set up on the island for a week each August.

Other than being small and temporary, Elleore resembles a real kingdom in most other respects: it has a regular (and growing) population, it issues passports, coins, stamps, has two universities, a royal house and an elected government.

The current prime minister is Viscountess Blaireause (her real name is Charlotte Moltke), and she admits that it can be hard for the uninitiated to get a handle on what’s real and what’s Elleore. Like when she answers the telephone using her Elleorean name.

“But that’s part of the fun. We don’t always know ourselves where one begins and the other ends, but I guess you could say that’s what makes this fun for us.”

In the Elleorean version of history, Irish monks settled the island in 944. In the Danish version, it began exactly 1,000 years later, on August 27, 1944, when a group of school teachers bought it for use as a summer camp.

“Elleore became an escape,” Blaireause says, pointing out that 1944 marked the fourth year of the Nazi occupation of Denmark. “It was a place they could go to, physically and mentally, where they could satirise the society they were living in.”

Seventy years later, Danish society is radically different from the one the first Elleoreans grew up in, but the kingdom’s citizens say it would be wrong to conclude that it no longer has a purpose.

“The essence of Elleore is our sense of community and our love for the kingdom. Satirising society might have been one of the reasons why Elleore was founded, but the most important thing then and now is that we are community – and that we’re a micronation. That’s what makes this fun.”

Unlike the society around it, Elleore, Blaireause says, has hung on to many traditions that folks on the mainland have long since forgotten.

For example, social occasions organised by the royal family during the year are formal events and require proper etiquette. During their annual ball, ladies are required to have a ball card. Citizens are also raised to address each other by title and display social courtesies that were once considered common.

In the 1940s, doing so was an exaggeration of societal norms. In today’s society, Elleore’s formality catches new citizens off guard.

“It’s an eye-opener for a lot of young people,” Blaireause says. “But these were things that I have actually been able to draw on at other times.”

Still, she’s quick to point out that when it comes right down to it “Elleore is a game. We’re doing this for the fun of it. We gather and we have a good laugh.”

Elleore, though, isn’t all fun and games. Firstly, there is the historical obligation. Citizenship, though voluntary, is limited to students of Kildegaard Privatskole. Originally, their involvement stopped after they completed school, but the kingdom has since reformed its laws, and now permits former students to remain involved.

That’s resulted in something of a population boom, and has seen the annual Elleore Week (the one week they actually spend in their kingdom) become less of a student summer camp than a family outing.

Secondly, Elleore is work. When they are on the island everyone pitches in to make the tiny society function, often filling multiple positions. When they are “abroad” in Denmark, as they say, many remain involved planning or taking part in social events or attending to the business of state.

“We’re always in character,” Blaireause says. “In a way, we’re on holiday 51 weeks a year, but just because we’re not on Elleore doesn’t mean the Kingdom of Elleore ceases to exist.”

The 70th anniversary Elleore Parade takes place in Roskilde on August 27. The parade begins at Hestetorvet and finishes at town hall, where representatives from the Kingdom will be received by Roskilde Mayor Joy Mogensen at 3pm. M

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By Kevin McGwin

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