Urmee Khan, London Telegraph, June 19, 2008
Stuart Hill is preparing to declare himself the head of a new state off the west coast of Shetland
Mr Hill settled on the island after his failed solo attempt to circumnavigate Britain in a home-made boat
Stuart Hill, a 65 year-old grandfather, will announce that ‘Forvik’, an island officially known as Forewick Holm, has broken away from the United Kingdom, quit the EU and become a crown dependency.
Mr Hill said his declaration of a new state—measuring one hectare (2.5 acres)—is intended to force the government and local council into action over the island’s history and constitutional legitimacy.
Mr Hill, originally from Manningtree, Essex, settled on the island after his failed solo attempt in 2001 to circumnavigate Britain in a home-made boat—earning the ‘Captain Calamity’ name—capsized west of the Shetland islands, the UK’s most northerly island group.
Like many Shetlanders, he believes the islands, colonised by Vikings in the ninth century, have a distinct identity and share a closer bond with their cousins in Norway, rather than with Edinburgh or London.
Mr Hill has called for the 22,000 inhabitants of Shetlands to declare independence from the UK. His says the case rests on a deal struck in 1469 when the King of Denmark, King Christian, effectively pawned Shetland to the Scottish monarch King James III to raise money for his daughter’s dowry.
According to Mr Hill, since the loan was never repaid and no other legal agreement signed, Shetland has remained in a constitutional limbo and should be a crown dependency like Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.
This week Shetland council challenged the crown estate, the property portfolio associated with the monarchy, over the agency’s control of Shetland’s seabed.
“I see a basic injustice that has continued for hundreds of years and has resulted in Shetland being cheated out of the oil money because the UK has appropriated the seabed without any prior right or title,” Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill is building the first and only permanent building on Forewick Holm from polythene sheets, laminated wood, hardboard and turf, all anchored down by a fishing net to guard against the gales.
Although he has no support with his idea and his residence has no planning permission, he said: “It’s all jolly good fun” and “Every pensioner should do something like this.”
In the months to come Mr Hill plans to print his own stamps, raise his own flag and even mint his own currency, solid gold coins to be called ‘gulde’.
Historians and legal experts have said there has been major constitutional changes from 1469, Shetlanders are part of the UK and Scandinavian kingdoms have no legal claim to the islands .