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Micro Monarchy

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The only country with a Napoleon complex.
Image by Edgar Ascensao. Used with permission.

"I assumed that Aldovia—like Genovia, the fictional country from The Princess Diaries, and like the location of essentially every other princess movie since Grace Kelly—was basically just a version of Lichtenstein or Monaco, a small but fascinating accident of history subsisting on some combination of high-end vacationer money (maybe skiing?) and tax laws very favorable to either the super-wealthy or multinational corporations, or both."
Kelly Faircloth reviewing A Christmas Prince

A Micro Monarchy is the setting (or a mentioned location, or a background for a character) used for a tiny (and usually, but not always, modern) country, that is under a monarchy, albeit usually a liberal, modernized one.

If the monarch has the title of Prince, it's called a Principality. The prevalence of micro monarchies as principalities is probably because of the Holy Roman Empire and All the Little Germanies, in which many of the smaller German monarchies (thus "micro monarchies" in their own right) were ruled by princes rather than kings. Perhaps because of this history, unlike English the German language has separate words for a prince who is a monarch in his own right ("Fürst") and a prince of who is merely the son or grandson of a monarch ("Prinz").

The make-up of the country will include ancient castles that are juxtaposed with modern day architecture of the surrounding buildings and — if it's a European state — the typical modern European car. Despite its size, it will usually have a decent economy, often based around one product that it is known the whole world for, or massive tourism to its historical sites. The nation's defense forces will only consist of ceremonial knights, palace security, and local police, and they will rely on some more powerful neighbor for defense.

If they ever are attacked in earnest and their neighbors let them down (or, even worse, the neighbors are the attackers), expect it to be easily conquered, with its inhabitants becoming either dead or oppressed, or, if they fare better, members of La Résistance. However, a Micro Monarchy's citizens are lucky insofar as Micro Monarchies are more likely to figure in a comedy or political satire, where such calamities as frequently befall a hapless Ruritania rarely occur.

This sort of setting has a tendency to be inherited by a long lost princess who has never even heard of the place before.

Compare and contrast with Land of One City, which may or may not be also a Micro Monarchy; as well as Ruritania, which is just a fictional Southern, Central or Eastern European country, Qurac which does the same for the Middle East, and Bulungi which covers Africa: All these can be Micro Monarchies too, but don't have to. Also tends to be The Good Kingdom.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Card Games 
  • Parodied in the card game Super Munchkin with the "Ruler of a Small European Country" card, which shows the character standing in a "country" about one foot square.

    Comic Books 
  • Several countries in the Marvel Universe, notably Latveria, Symkaria and Madripoor.
  • DC Comics has Markovia.
    • Green Lantern foe Sonar hails from the tiny Balkan nation of Modora. With a population of four hundred, Modora was relatively unknown to the rest of the world, its only product the wool of a peculiar brown sheep found only in that small area. Sonar planned to use his mastery of sonics to make Modora the most powerful nation in the world.
  • Syldavia from the Tintin comics has been portrayed this way (it is also a Ruritania).
  • The small-state Khulewitz is this in the Suske en Wiske album #300 Het machtige monument. Unlike others on the list though the state is corrupt despite its ruler being extremely sympathetic. The main villain is the one leading the corruption.
  • Wonder Woman: Paradise Island is usually depicted as at most a square mile of land ruled by a monarchy. During Wonder Woman (1942) Aurania and Venturia were two Atlantean kingdoms/principalities that were each the size of a city and at war with each other.

  • The Mamemon Kingdom in the A Dragon in Shining Armour sequel Holy War is a city-state that's too small to show up on most maps. This, unfortunately, makes it much, much smaller than its king's ego. Also unfortunately, one of its neighbors is the Metal Empire and said king has just provoked them into war by making some very impulsive statements regarding stolen technological secrets.
  • Legendarily Popular: After Ash catches 29 Dratini in one visit to the Safari Zone, most of them at any given time are stationed at Pallet Town. They eventually organise themselves into a Parliament, then transition to a monarchy once one evolves into a Dragonite, forming the Ryuunited Kingdom. Grand Champion Lance is an honorary citizen.


  • In the Chronicles of Prydain, Fflewddur Fflam - being one of the Sons of Don - is actually the king of one of these. Its name is never given, but it's stated to contain his castle and a very small bit of land just outside of the castle and that's about it. Fflewddur, for his part, isn't that interested in being king even of such a small place, and prefers to spend his time as a wandering minstrel.
  • The Discworld series has Lancre: 40x10 miles, although it gets a lot bigger if you count vertical surfaces. Neighboring kingdoms are so small, however, that their kings might rule in their free time, while their main job might be farming. Lancre is unusual for the region in that it is large enough to have a standing army: Shawn Ogg (except when he's lying down), who is also the entire postal service, as well as the royal butler, doorman, herald, privy cleaner, etc.
  • Explorers of Gor: When Tarl ventures to Darkest Gor to retrieve a Plot Coupon, he encounters Bila Huruma, who is consolidating all the tiny independent kingdoms/villages into a powerful empire. Bila Huruma is opposed by Kisu, king of Ukungu, who fights against Bila Huruma in order for his village to remain free — and succeeds:
    To this day, as one may see upon the map, the land of Ukungu stands as a sovereign free state within the perimeter of the empire of Bila Huruma.
  • The Duchy of Grand Fenwick in Leonard Wibberley's The Mouse That Roared series. Duchess Gloriana is the ruler but the Prime Minister runs things.
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot features the fictional country of Genovia, which seems to replace the real life nation of Andorra.
  • The Castle in Septimus Heap. It's a fairly small city state, except without as much external territory as city states usually have.
  • In Kiki Strike, Kiki is the long-lost exiled princess of Pokrovia.
  • Montmaray in the Montmaray Trilogy is a very small example, with a population of nine at the start of the first book. By the end, it's occupied by the royal family in the summer, and a caretaker in the winter.
  • Hilda and Richie: The two titular foxes live in Foxland, a small country bordered by Switzerland and Austria. Given its location, Foxland can be seen as an Expy of Liechtenstein.
  • Exaggerated with Skerra, a bleak flyspeck island far northwest of Scotland, in Swellhead. The few hundred wretched people who used to live there were evacuated to the U.K. some time ago, leaving just a few bedraggled and inbred goats as Skerra's "population". Nevertheless, the old Skerran queenship, the "Droning", remains a valid title, albeit one that's been sold off repeatedly to whichever Upper-Class Twit wants it as a status symbol.
  • October Daye: Fae populations are already low by human standards, and rule over pretty limited geographic areas, but Tybalt wins this one. After becoming King of Cats in Londinium, he expels every other cait sidhe from his realm to save them from the Great Fire of London (he sticks around to keep anyone else from taking the throne and bringing everyone back). For a decade, he's the sole inhabitant of his own kingdom.
  • Exaggerated in a Story Within a Story in Olga Da Polga. Olga tells a "Just So" Story involving a king whose kingdom was so small, it had only one inhabitant (aside from the king himself and his daughter).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Pullamawang, setting of the Micronation series, became its own country after they "forgot to send in their paperwork" during the federation of Australia in 1901, and is ruled by Kingess Betty Cosdosca.
  • In Magnum, P.I. it's Tervia, a delightful principality nestled high in the Pyrenees and very picturesque, according to Higgins. It's run by Prince Roland Monte-Eton and his lovely American bride Wanda.
  • The Wonder Woman episode "The Screaming Javelins" has the mad king of Mariposalia kidnapping Olympic-level athletes to compete for his country in the next games.
    • And of course Paradise Island itself qualifies.
  • The Hallmark movie A Royal Christmas is set in the fictional microstate Cordinia, which is based on Monaco, though it's name is an amalgam of Corsica and Sardinia.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ghastria of the Ravenloft setting functioned like a Micro Monarchy up until the Great Upheaval. Most domains ruled by nobles and/or royals are micro-monarchies, as the size and population of Domains are quite tiny even by pseudo-medieval Dungeons & Dragons standards (Darkon is the only domain with over a hundred thousand inhabitants; many Core Domains and most Clusters and Islands have less than 1/10th that population). It's common for DMs to increase the population and size of Domains for the sake of realism.

  • Lichtenburg of the musical Call Me Madam, which was a blatant expy of the real-life Duchy of Luxembourg.
  • Pontevedro in The Merry Widow, a blatant parody of Montenegro.

    Video Games 
  • The Principality of Gallia in Valkyria Chronicles. Though it is more powerful than the average Micro Monarchy, it fits the rest rather well.
  • The Kingdom of Sahrani from ARMA : Armed Assault is a small, mostly Spanish-speaking island monarchy in the Atlantic Ocean. Its enviroment and architecture have parallels with the Caribbean and the Cape Verde islands.
  • The Duchy of Soleanna in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). A constitutional monarchy ruled by an underaged duchess (who's called a "princess" anyway), with an economy dominated by tourism and precision machinery.
  • Hyrule from The Legend of Zelda. Its second-biggest incarnation contains no more than six humanoid settlements: Hyrule castle town, Kakariko village, the Gerudo fortress, and the Goron, Zora and Kokiri villages. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past just has one castle (sans town), one village and two abandoned palaces. Averted in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where the Kingdom's land area would fit the average European country.
  • Soul Series: Wolfkrone, Hilde's homeland, is a tiny country located somewhere in the German-speaking region of the Holy Roman Empire, supposedly near the Swiss Alps.
  • Novoselic in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the small, wealthy, and quirky home country of the Ultimate Princess.
  • Riksent of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation is a small nation in the Mediterranean whose economy seems to revolve around tourism and gold mining. The ruling family possesses strong clairvoyance and the Divine Crusaders invade twice attempting to kidnap the young Princess Shine and use her powers.
  • BattleTech: The Aurigan Coalition, the small cluster of star systems where most of the game's plot takes place, is this. This was done because having such a relatively small area as the focus of the action made it more believable that a single lance of mechs controlled by the player could play such a deciding role in the game's plot. The Coalition has since become a Canon Immigrant into the core game.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the region of Highever - home to a Human Noble player character - is identified as a teyrnir but is stated to be a principality within the kingdom of Ferelden. The ruling family, the Couslands, don't use princely titles; nevertheless, theirs is the oldest noble house in the realm and second in precedence only to the actual royal family, to whom the Couslands have been deeply loyal for generations.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Crystal Empire is, despite the name, barely a Land of One City. It's implied that it was quite a lot bigger in the past.
    • Similarly, Griffonstone is a run-down shantytown that is supposedly the only notable griffon settlement. Much of its decline is due to sheer apathy that started over a lost artifact generations ago and has been growing since. According to Twilight Sparkle, it was a grand sight once.
    • From the comics, there's the Kingdom of Dimondia, home of one of the more civilized Diamond Dog packs (most other dogs live underground). It's predictably just a castle and a town, and presided over by a unicorn queen who's technically held prisoner and really, really wants to get out.
    • The land of Yakyakistan seems to be composed of a single town of simple huts hidden away behind a huge gate, or at least that's all we see of it.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force has Zanovia, an European monarchy that called in Ben and his team to help with a revolution brewing.
  • Kim Possible: The Kingdom of Rodigan, where Prince Wally is from. At the end of the episode it features in, however, the monarchy is said to come to an end when Wally decides to convert the government to a democracy.
  • The setting of Jack Frost and Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town.
  • The Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Song of the Night 'n Dale" takes place in a valley somewhere in China that has got its own emperor. Not much more than the emperor's palace is shown in the episode, but the emperor's sister wants to turn it into a tourist trap.
  • Dave the Barbarian The Kingdom of Udrogoth apparently consists of one little town.

    Real Life 
  • Various countries the world over resemble this trope: Europe has Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Vatican City.note  (Andorra is a weird case, as its co-princes are the bishop of Urgell and ...the president of Francenote ). The Middle East has the smaller Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar); Southeast Asia has Brunei. In mainland Asia there's Bhutan. Africa has two, both closely connected to the nation of South Africa: Lesotho, which is an enclave of South Africa, and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland).
    • Vatican City is the smallest internationally recognized sovereign state (technically its the Holy See that's sovereign, which holds Vatican) at 0.44 square kilometers. It is so small that most of its government buildings are outside of it in Rome. This includes the Italian embassy, the only embassy located in its own country.
    • San Marino counts for the "Micro" part (being only 61 square kilometers), but not the "Monarchy" part (having been a republic since 301).
    • The "being easily conquered" parts definitely applies too, as shown with how easily Luxembourg was conquered by Germany in both of the World Wars, or when Kuwait was conquered in just two days by Iraq during the Gulf War. Liechtenstein on the other hand, perhaps due to its close association with Switzerland (if not for being a monarchy it probably would've ended up as a Swiss canton) and similarly mountainous borders, was able to maintain independence during both World Wars.
    • While most real-life micro monarchies are indeed as filthy rich as their fictional counterparts (as of 2023, Monaco is the richest country in the world by GDP per capita), this is not the case with Bhutan, eSwatini, and Lesotho, which have economies matching those of the Global South (in fact, the latter two are actually poorer than South Africa, their much larger republican neighbor). And being liberal democracies only apply to Bhutan, Lesotho, and Luxembourg; the Arab micro monarchies of the Persian Gulf are famously autocratic absolute monarchies, as are Brunei and eSwatini. Believe it or not, the Vatican City counts as an absolute monarchy as well, since the Pope has the final say in all matters related to his country, and he reigns for life. Even the princes of Liechtenstein and Monaco have unusually broad veto powers in state policy compared to their European peers.
  • In a way, every noble's territory could count through much of history. How much depends on how strong the central authority was compared to the nobles.
  • A typical Scottish clan in the past. The Lords of the Isles might well have ended up as an independent state and perhaps not so "micro" if history had been different.
  • Similarly, Wales was made up of a number of these in the years before English conquest. Each was ruled by its own king or prince, and it wasn't until the reign of Llywelyn the Great that these small nations were united into one.
  • And back for a third culture with Ireland, renowned for its various grades of petty-kings and chieftains. The most powerful kings ruled whole provinces, while the lowest grade of king only had a territory about 10-15 miles across (about a day's travel).
  • The Roman Empire eventually became one, having also started out as one. By 1453, the Empire was reduced from one of the world´s largest empires up to that point to only Constantinople and a few tens of kilometres of Thrace as well as a few small holdings in the Peloponnese Peninsula and a couple other islands in the Aegean Sea, becoming subservient to the Ottoman Sultans, and was conquered by Mehmed the Conqueror.
  • Many real-life micronations — tiny not-quite-countries, many of which have tried to gain independence from their parent countries, some even "succeeding" — if you count police or military not immediately intervening or their stamps being accidentally accepted, that is.
    • A particularly notable example is the Principality of Sealand, a disused sea fort off the coast of Suffolk, England, seized in 1967 by pirate radio broadcaster Paddy Roy Bates as a base for his radio station. When broadcasting from marine structures such as Bates's was made illegal that same year, Bates declared the fort an independent nation, and named it Sealand. Sealand has its own flag, coat of arms, anthem, Association Football team, currency and passports, and in 1978 was even invaded by a German businessman, with mercenaries, claiming to be the Prime Minister of Sealand and the rightful ruling authority. Although Sealand has no legal recognition, Bates claimed de facto recognition by the British government after they admitted the fort was outside national territorial waters and they could not charge him for firearms offences while there. In 1987 UK territorial waters expanded from 3 to 12 nautical miles and now include Sealand. "Prince Roy" responded by declaring that Sealand's territorial waters were also now 12 nautical miles, which was ignored by the UK. The Convention on the Law of the Sea also holds that artificial structures cannot have territorial watersnote , though since that treaty was established in 1994 (27 years after Sealand's declaration of independence), in the unlikely event of it being internationally recognized the principality would be grandfathered in. Bates died in 2012, but passed the title 'Prince of Sealand' onto his son Michael, who lives on the British mainland. There have been a few failed attempts to buy Sealand from Michael Bates, even though traditionally monarchies are not the personal property of monarchs but rather the property of "the crown", and thus cannot be bought and sold.note 
    • The Principality of Pontinha may be the smallest nation in the world, pending UN analysis. It is a total of 178m2, and consists in its entirety of a single tower fort and a small terrace built on an islet just off the town of Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The islet was sold by Portuguese king Dom Carlos I in 1903 to a British family, and sold again in 2000 to Renato Barros, a local art teacher. In 2007 the Portuguese government confirmed the legitimacy of the original 1903 sale; Renato claimed Pontinha's independence from Portugal and named himself Prince Renato II. In his own words, "It means I can do what I want with it – I could start a restaurant, or a cinema, but nobody thought that someone would want to start a country. So that’s what I did... I am the police, the gardener, everything. I am whatever I want to be – that’s the dream, isn’t it? If I decide I want to have a national song, I can choose it, and I can change it any time. The same with my flag – it could be blue today, red tomorrow." The nation's four citizens are the Prince, his wife, and his two children, though only the Prince lives in the fort. Pontinha's official currency is Bitcoin.
    • Aerican Empire is perhaps one of the most, if not the most imaginative case of this. It was founded in 1987 by Canadian now-psychiatrist named Dr. Eric Lis and his friends as wholly fictional empire based on their love of science fiction works such as Star Wars, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and other works. Around or before 1997 during the advent of the internet, the founders discovered other micronations similar to their own and they slowly abandoned most fictional elements and worked towards becoming a political entity rather than a hobby, though it's still mostly for fun. They established the Empire as Elective Monarchy, with Eric as its Emperor. The Empire's motto is "It's a silly old world; let's keep it that way." In 1997, the Empire created a website. Its members claim sovereignty over a vast disconnected territory, including a square kilometer of land in Australia, a house-sized area in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (containing the "Embassy to Everything Else"), several other areas of the Earth, a colony on Mars, the northern hemisphere of Pluto... and an imaginary planet. Their flag is similar to the flag of Canada, with a large yellow smiley face instead of the red maple leaf in the white square (although the red rectangles on the sides have different side length ratios). It also developed a "religion" called Silinism, the worship of the Great Penguin; originally intended as a joke, but which the group claims to have thirty practitioners worldwide. It has holidays and "niftydays" (such as 2 January Procrastinator's Day, 27 February *Oops* Day, 19 March What the Heck is That Day, and 26 October Topin Wagglegammon, The Niftiest Day of the Year). In 2000 The New York Times described its website as "one of the more imaginative" micronation sites.
    • The Principality of Seborga, located in northern Italy near the French border (not far from Monaco, in fact) claims that their small town of about 300 people was never ruled by the House of Savoy and thus, according to certain treaties, is not a legitimate part of Italy but rather an independent Principality. They have their own government, their own currency, their own volunteer border patrol and their own flag, and are highly regarded in the micronational community, having been one of the original micronations - they proclaimed their independence in 1963, though they claim to have existed since 954. Giorgio Carbone, the local flower grower who originally proposed the claim that Seborga was independent, ruled as Prince from 1963 until his death in 2009, at which point Seborga became an Elective Monarchy.
  • After the Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years' War, the Holy Roman Empire fragmented into over a thousand of these. Possibly history's most triumphant example.
  • Many parts of the fringe neoreactionary movement dream of establishing micro monarchies.
  • Some members of the german Reichsbürger movement tried to declare their houses micromonarchies and even tailored royal uniforms for themselves.
  • The Republic of Molossia is technically located on US soil (all 0.002 square miles) and not officially recognized as an independent nation; but their president, Kevin Baugh, doesn't let that get in the way of flying the Molossian flag, issue their own currency, sing their own anthem ("Fair Molossia is our Home") and maintain a proportionately very strong space program. It is officially a constitutional presidential republic, but run like a very small military dictatorship. During mid-May 2010, the country was invaded and conquered by a rag-tag band of Internet celebrities, but the foreign leadership quickly fractured due to internal power struggles, and President Baugh was able to use the distraction to oust the invaders and reclaim the country with very few casualties.
  • The Yogyakarta Sultanate. Not only is it a monarchy within Indonesia (a Republic) that exists even before the era of colonialism, but it also has a Principality (Pakualaman) within the monarchy itself. The Sultan of Yogyakarta and Prince of Pakualaman serve as Governor and Vice-Governor of Yogyakarta, respectively. Both positions are hereditary, making it the only province in Indonesia whose Governor and Vice-Governor are hereditary rather than elected.
  • The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Islands was established in 2004 as a protest against the government of Australia's refusal to consider legalizing same-sex marriage. The rainbow flag became the national flag, "I Am What I Am" from La Cage aux folles served as the National Anthem, and Dale Parker Anderson, styled Dale R, was declared emperor. The Kingdom went unrecognized by any international body, leading it to declare war on Australia later that year. When Australia legalized same-sex marriage in 2017, Emperor Dale dissolved the Kingdom.

Alternative Title(s): Principality