2008 Transition of Power

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The 2008 Transition of Power is the name for the time period spanning from August - December 2008 during which Grand Duke Philip abdicated from the throne of Westarctica and the passed the Crown to Jon-Lawrence Langer, who assumed the throne as Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence.


In January 2006, Grand Duke Travis, the founder of Westarctica, abdicated from the throne and passed the Crown to the former Minister of Information, Philip Karns, the Duke of Ravencroft. Philip assumed the throne as Grand Duke Philip and ruled capably (although not without controversy) for a year and a half.

In July 2007, Grand Duke Philip underwent a series of medical and financial struggles that resulted in his inability to maintain the Westarctica website any further. Payment for the domain name lapsed and on 13 September 2007 at 18:03 UTC, a domain parking service wrested control of Westarctica.com from the government.

Grand Duke Philip, weary with the world, during the transition of power in 2008

This tragic loss of the official website resulted in numerous micronationalists declaring Westarctica's government dead and its claim to Marie Byrd Land no longer valid. Seemingly overnight, hordes of restless micronations crawled out of the woodwork to fight over the scraps of Westarctica's seemingly abandoned claim to its sovereign territory. These events were part of the misunderstandings that led to the Siple War.

Beginning of the transition

On 23 June 2008, Jon-Lawrence Langer, the Duke of Moulton-Berlin (and a citizen of Westarctica since 2003) reached out to Travis McHenry inquiring about Westartica's disappearance from the internet. His e-mail contained the subject line "I once knew a monarch with a name like yours..." and continued:

How have you been? It has been quite some time and I am phishing for info on the disappearance of Westarctica. Have you ever thought of a return to the throne? Is there still a throne to return to? When I first contacted you, I was an underemployed, disabled vet living in someone's basement. Your dream of something bold inspired me to greater things. I am now a professional civil servant with a kid, a car, a house, and a great girl.

Although you may not have played an active hand in these things, you are in many ways my biggest benefactor. Thank you. I truly feel Westarctica can be a positive life changing experience for others. Please consider resurrecting it.

A few days later, Travis sent a lengthy response giving his reasons for declining a return to the throne, mostly due to his focus on his acting career and his pending move to Los Angeles. He gave explicit support for Jon-Lawrence to take control of Westarctica's government.

In my opinion, when Phil let the website go under, he effectively ceased his role in governing the country. He and I had an informal agreement that I would retain the claim to Westarctican land, while he would act as the head of state/government to administer my claim. Really, he has failed to perform the charge of his office, so as far as I'm concerned, I'd have no problem with a change of government.

Let me know your ideas and I will support you through the transition, and as a part-time adviser, but I can't take an active/public role in Westarctican affairs at this time.

Abdication of Grand Duke Philip

Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence after assuming the throne of Westarctica

Although his health and finance issues caused Philip to withdraw from public life, Travis was able to get in contact with the ailing Grand Duke and discuss the possibility of his abdication.

Philip's response reflected his weariness at running the nation, combined with his own life struggles: “If they want it, the crown is theirs.”

On 24 August 2008, Jon-Lawrence accepted the terms and said: “I invite the challenge."

Over the following months, Jon-Lawrence began designing a new website, using a new domain name, Westarctica.org. On 30 December 2008, the transition was finally complete and Jon-Lawrence ascended the throne as Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence.