Coronation of the Consul-General
The Coronation of the Consul-General as Head of State and Government of the Achaean Territory of Antarctica took place at Marmaris Castle in Marmaris, Turkey on 8 September 2001. This was two months prior to the actual filing of the Claimant Letter that would later lead to the creation of Westarctica.
Having been inspired by Napoleon to become the ruler of a nation, Travis McHenry always knew he would lead his new country as a royal figure. However, he also wished to present an accurate picture of himself as a representative of his country to the world at large. Therefore, the title "Consul-General" was selected to conjure images of a diplomat, but also as an homage to Napoleon's first political position "First Consul of France."
As Head of State, Travis would also be head of the noble class that was to be appointed as governors of the various regions of Marie Byrd Land. In order to effectively lead the nobility, he needed to become a member of them by way of a coronation ceremony formally draping his rule in the mantle of royalty.
Initially, it was thought that the coronation ceremony would only occur after the first visit to the continent of Antarctica, and then, it should only occur on the actual territory of Achaea. Those plans changed quickly after Travis arrived in Marmaris, Turkey for a port visit while he was stationed as an Intelligence Specialist on the U.S. Navy ship, USS Kearsarge.
Crown, clothing, and venue
- Main article: Consular Crown
On Travis' second day in Marmaris, he discovered the price of gold in Turkey was astoundingly low, around $240 per ounce, and he spoke with Turkish jeweler Ferhat Özyalçın about the possibility of having a crown made of solid gold. Ferhat designed a simple circlet with finely detailed leaves in the style of a Roman Imperial Crown, custom measured to fit Travis' head.
The coronation outfit
The choice of clothing for the coronation was deliberately sourced from local garment merchants as a way of respecting and celebrating the culture of Turkey. The outfit consisted of three parts:
- A natural-colored linen tunic with three buttons at the neck.
- Beige Capri pants.
- Tan leather sandals.
The coronation ceremony occurred at Marmaris Castle, which had been scouted two days prior to the event and deemed to be a suitable location. The first ramparts of the castle were built in 3,000 B.C. as a strategic stronghold along the Anatolia-Rhodes-Egypt trade route when the city was known as "Physcus." Alexander the Great rebuilt much of the castle when he occupied Marmaris in 334 B.C. Finally, the most recent construction was by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in either 1522 or 1545. It was heavily damaged by French warships during WWI and was not fully restored until the Turkish government undertook a massive 10 year renovation project from 1980 - 1990. The castle was opened to the public as an archaeological museum in 1991.
Marmaris Castle is made of stone and consists of four ramparts surrounding a central courtyard. Each of the ramparts contains upper level and lower level covered rooms. The lower (ground level) rooms all feature spectacular vaulted ceilings. The northerly rampart also serves as the gatehouse and only entrance.
The coronation ceremony
After Travis obtained the completed crown from the jeweler and tested it for proper fit, he and his shipmate from the Kearsarge, Christopher Wisniewski, proceeded directly through the streets of Marmaris to Marmaris Castle. They walked to the second floor of the south-eastern tower and, after rearranging the antique furniture on display, began the ceremony. Christopher handled the video camera and recorded the entire event.
First, Travis walked slowly toward the south-facing window of the castle wall. Then, he picked up the crown and turned reverentially toward the camera. In silence, he slowly placed the crown upon his head. He stood for a moment, then sat in the recessed window sill and gazed pensively out toward the Mediterranean Sea.
A single picture, freeze-framed in the video, was captured. The entire film of the ceremony was shot in sepia tone for added effect. All told, the coronation ceremony last less than two minutes.
Significance of the coronation
Following the coronation, no videos or pictures were ever shared with the public. Even pictures of the crown itself were not made public due to the government's concern no one would believe the crown was made of real gold. However, shortly after the ceremony, the newly-crowned Consul-General, still in his coronation outfit, posed with a Turkish port guard holding a submachine gun and this picture was widely distributed.
It remains the only coronation ever performed for a monarch of Westarctica, and even after assuming the throne as Grand Duke, Travis did not perform a second coronation, believing the first was more reverential and significant than an event with a large audience and fancy regalia.
Following the coronation ceremony, Travis became known as "His Eminence, the Consul-General of Achaea."