Piel Island in Cumbria and Sealand off the coast of Essex are sovereign monarchies with their own laws, stamps … and enemies
It isn’t commonly known that the UK has three royal families. You may have heard of a motley bunch called the Windsors, but how about King Steve and Queen Sheila of Piel Island?
This 50-acre island off Barrow-in-Furness in north-west England has it all: a castle, a pub and a monarchy. Piel has been ruled peacefully for more than 500 years, with divine sovereignty automatically bestowed on whoever’s running the Ship Inn. Each year, a new Knight of the Realm is chosen. This title is not acquired, as some believe, by simply having a pint poured over your head and getting a round in. According to Queen Sheila, “myself, the king and a few princesses select whoever’s done something outstanding for our community. The last person we knighted rescued 10 people from drowning. One year it was Harry H Corbett of Steptoe and Son fame: he was a frequent visitor and created great treasure hunts for the kids.”