The Principality of the Hutt River Province is a self-proclaimed "independent nation" north of Perth, Western Australia.
It was founded on 21 April 1970 by farmer Leonard George Casley 'Prince Leonard' when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from Western Australia, a state of Australia.
No government recognises the Province's claims to independence.
In 1969, in response to a long-running dispute with the government of Western Australia over what they saw as draconian wheat quotas, Casley and his associates resorted to an arcane provision in British common law which they felt allowed them to secede and declare their independence from the Commonwealth of Australia.
Casley states that he nonetheless remains loyal to Queen Elizabeth II.
Casley was elected administrator of the new sovereign state by his family and later styled himself His Royal Highness Prince Leonard of Hutt.
Hutt River Province is situated 595 km north of Perth, and is about 75 square km in size.
Exports include wildflowers, agricultural produce, stamps and coins, while tourism is also important to its economy.
In the early 1980s Hutt River Province declared itself to be a kingdom, but soon afterwards reverted to its original status of a principality.
At about this time a charismatic individual by the name of Kevin Gale became associated with the Principality, and swiftly rose through the ranks of the "nobility" to the position of "Prince Regent".
Gale, who lived in Queensland, on the other side of the Australian continent from Prince Leonard, progressively took over the Province's commercial operations, and proceeded to release a flood of stamp and coin issues.
Gale's operation also sold Hutt River "noble titles" and "knighthoods" throughout Europe and North America.
By the early 1990s Gale's activities had become independent of those of his "sovereign" in all but name, and the "Prince Regent" regularly hosted large public functions and was associated with high-profile charitable fundraising activities on the Gold Coast.
At the time of his sudden death in 1995 he and his associates were allegedly seeking to formally overthrow Prince Leonard as "sovereign", install Gale in his place, and establish Hutt River Province as an independent state on an island in the Pacific