Grand Duke Travis
His Royal Highness, Grand Duke Travis (birth name Travis McHenry) is the founder and current Head of State of Westarctica, a micronation, new country project, and environmental non-profit corporation.
|His Royal Highness|
Grand Duke Travis
|Grand Duke of Westarctica|
Overlord of Calsahara
Sultan of Raphania
Baron of Flandrensis
|Second Reign||21 September 2012 - Present|
|Preceded by||Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence|
|Reign||24 November 2009 - October 2013|
|Preceded by||Throne Established|
|First Reign||30 June 2004 - 14 January 2006|
|Preceded by||Throne Established|
|Successor||Grand Duke Philip|
|In Office||12 September 2001 - 6 June 2004|
|Preceded by||Position Established|
|Prince-Consort||Prince Dinny (m. 28 Dec 2016; div. Nov 2022)|
|Grand Duchess||Grand Duchess Cathryn (m. Nov 2004; div. Jun 2013)|
|Consular Consort||Rebecca St. Ann (Jan 2003 - Mar 2004) never married|
|Issue||Prince Ashton Roman|
Prince Daniel Nicholas
|Born||4 June 1980|
The Grand Duke has been involved with various micronations, and has founded three of his own, starting in 1996 with the Kingdom of Casbah, then Westarctica in 2001, and finally Calsahara in 2009. In between these projects, he served as a governor for two provinces of Molossia.
June 4th, the Grand Duke's birthday, is celebrated as a national holiday.
Travis Daniel McHenry was born 4 June 1980 in rural Benton, Pennsylvania, a town with a population of less than 1,000 people where the McHenry family has lived for over two hundred years; having first settled in the Fishing Creek Valley in the late 1700s on a 1,000+ acre tract of land deeded to Daniel McHenry by John Penn, the son of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.
Travis was an unexceptional student in elementary school, being consistently reprimanded on report cards for having too much energy and being a distraction to others. In high school, he showed an aptitude for history, English, and acting, but repeatedly failed math classes and was reputedly the leader of a shadowy gang known as The Moonshine Crooks.
He was accepted into the undergraduate theater program at Bloomsburg University during his first semester as a high school senior and would leave high school early to attend university classes in the evenings.
The Kingdom of Casbah
- Main article: Kingdom of Casbah
During the spring / summer of 1995, Travis founded the break-away Kingdom of Casbah in rural north-eastern Pennsylvania. Travis proclaimed himself Maharaja, and ruled the agrarian nation with an iron fist. As a result of his various eccentricities and demanding temperament (including the creation of a religion devoted to the worship of the pagan deity Pan) he was overthrown twice, with the second usurpation resulting in his exile and the collapse of Casbah’s government in October 2000. The events of his reign in Casbah were later satirized in his stage play Delusions of Grandeur.
After college, Travis pursued a career in the United States Navy where he served for eight years as an Intelligence Specialist with a Top Secret/SCI security clearance on the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and as an instructor at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
His primary specialties were Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (ATFP) and foreign country military capabilities.
Claiming Marie Byrd Land
- Main article: Achaean Territory of Antarctica
In August 2001, while serving in the U.S. Navy, Travis discovered a loophole in the Antarctic Treaty which legally allowed him to claim a huge swath of land on the Antarctic continent for himself. Travis solidified this claim on 2 November 2001 when he notified nine world governments of his claim and his intention to establish a sovereign nation in the Marie Byrd Land region of Antarctica.
For three years, Travis ruled this new country project as Consul-General of the Achaean Territory, until he underwent a religious conversion and became a born-again Christian in June 2004.
First reign over Westarctica
- Main article: Westarctica
On 30 June 2004, Travis instituted new laws over his claimed territory and proclaimed himself Grand Duke of Westarctica. This new incarnation of the Antarctic micronation proved significantly more popular than the Achaean Territory and drew dozens of citizens and volunteers wishing to work in Westarctica's government.
During this time, he made many diplomatic friendships with other micronational leaders and conducted a state visit with President Kevin Baugh of the Republic of Molossia in Washington, D.C. During these early years ruling Westarctica, Grand Duke Travis' focus was on gaining recognition for his nation's sovereignty from member states of the United Nations. To this end, he sent a large volume of correspondence to leaders and representatives from countries around the world that he thought might be sympathetic to his cause. These included: Monaco, Luxembourg, Sudan, Great Britain, Haiti, Laos, Eritrea, Nepal, Nauru, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Niue, Vatican City, and Taiwan (among others).
Of these, only Prince Albert II of Monaco and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg replied to his letters, although the former CEO of Antarctica New Zealand, Lou Sanson, once stated in an interview that he received Grand Duke Travis' letter claiming the Balleny Islands, but ultimately didn't respond because he "didn't want to encourage him."
In 2005, several news articles were released about Westarctica in publications such as COLORS Magazine, The Somaliland Times, and the Associated Press.
Abdication from the throne of Westarctica
The press coverage surrounding Westarctica led to Travis' superiors in the U.S. Navy learning about his routine correspondence with foreign nationals. In late 2005, Travis was asked to meet with an investigator from the Defense Security Service (DSS) who informed him that the government was considering revoking his security clearance due to his interactions with representatives of foreign governments, some of whom were generally considered enemies of the United States. After several subsequent meetings and interviews, a representative from DSS asked Travis to sign a waiver agreeing to cease all communication with foreigners. In return, they would allow him to continue holding a security clearance.
After these meetings, Grand Duke Travis reviewed his options for several weeks and eventually decided to stop his correspondence with foreign governments. However, this meant he would be unable to continue advocating for Westarctica on the international stage. Therefore, on 14 January 2006, he signed an instrument of abdication relinquishing the crown of Westarctica, the title of Grand Duke, and the rights of his children to inherit the throne in the future.
Prior to the public abdication, Travis had already arranged a transfer of power with Westarctica's Minister of Information, Philip Karns, the Duke of Ravencroft. Philip had been Travis' friend since the late 1990s and was an important Minister in the Grand Ducal Cabinet.
Involvement with Molossia
Governor of New Antrim
- Main article: Protectorate of New Antrim
On 22 March 2006, two months after his abdication from the throne of Westarctica, Travis was approached by President Baugh of Molossia and asked if he would like to join Molossia as a citizen while turning his private abode into a province of Molossia. To sweeten the deal, President Baugh offered him a position as Grand Admiral of the Molossian Navy, which was intended as a kind of advisory position to the President. In Baugh's own words:
You will carry this title as did Admiral Horthy in post World War I Hungary, a land-locked nation without a Navy. As to official duties, I envision them as what you are already doing, playing the part of advisor and idea-man.
Travis accepted these terms and was subsequently appointed to the post of Governor of New Antrim, a ten-acre Molossian protectorate in northeastern Pennsylvania. This area was roughly equivalent to the central plot of land owned by the McHenry family since the 1700s. To help avoid increased scrutiny from his superiors in the Navy, it was agreed that while in service to Molossia, Travis would utilize his mother's maiden name as his last name and be officially known as "Grand Admiral Hess."
During his time as the leader of New Antrim, "Grand Admiral Hess" participated in the Molossia-Mustachistan War, which lasted from May - June in 2006. The Grand Admiral served with distinction on the Eastern Front by leading the Molossian Navy to victory in the Battle of Lake Jean, a feat for which he was awarded the Mustachistan War Medal. He also successfully mediated the New Antrim Tobacco Crisis in 2007.
In April 2009, after Travis had left the Navy and moved to Southern California to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, President Baugh and the Grand Admiral both agreed that the Protectorate of New Antrim had run its course and outlived its usefulness as a Molossian side-show. The protectorate was quietly retired without fanfare or an official announcement at the end of that month.
Governor of Desert Homestead
- Main article: Desert Homestead Province
On 5 April 2009, Travis drove from his new home in Anaheim, California, to the wilds of Joshua Tree and the isolated Molossian Province of Desert Homestead. During his first trip to the five acre province, he conducted a survey of the land and reported on the existence and location of power and water lines connected to the property. He then built a small terrace known as "Baugh Terrace" and enjoyed a celebratory glass of champagne as the sun went down.
As a result of his close proximity to Desert Homestead, President Baugh suggested that Travis' duties as Governor of New Antrim be retired along with the existence of the protectorate and he assume a new role as Governor-General of Desert Homestead. While the hot, desolate province was a dramatic change from the green forests and flowing rivers of New Antrim, Travis accepted the post and began his tenure as Governor-General.
While Governor-General, Travis made his first visit to the Molossian home territory in northern Nevada on 26 April 2009. During this trip, he presented President Baugh with a framed poem he wrote (titled The Micronationalist) to celebrate micronationalists.
It was at this time that President Baugh pressed Travis to return to the community of micronations as a leader in his own right. The President encouraged Travis to get a surplus military uniform and possibly buy a plot of cheap land out in Joshua Tree. These persistent entreaties, as well as Travis' overall impression of the simple beauty of the Molossian home province, suitably convinced him that it was time to become a ruler once again.
Ruler of Calsahara
- Main article: Colony of Calsahara
In late 2009, Travis learned that his mother-in-law was part owner of a 2.5 acre tract of land in central California. After viewing pictures of the property online and finding it to be a barren wasteland, Travis promptly proclaimed it a sovereign nation with the name "Calsahara" (California = Cal and Desert = Sahara).
Having learned his lesson from his previous experience running a micronation, Travis decided to play it safe and adopted a regnal name, ultimately choosing the name King Montague, in honor of the Montague family from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. While ruling as King Montague, Travis developed Calsahara into a thriving micronation with a unique culture. He conducted state visits with the micronations of Vikesland, Molossia, and the Kingdom of Shiloh. On 10 September 2011, he was an honored guest at the wedding of President Baugh to the new First Lady of Molossia, Adrianne Baugh.
In 2014, after the competition of his divorce from his wife, Cathryn, Travis began to feel conflicted concerning his continued Kingship over a land he was no longer truly entitled to rule. In deference to his ex-in-laws, Travis abdicated the throne of Calsahara and turned over the crown to his son, Nicholas. He initially served as Calsahara's Head of Government, with the title Dictator for Life, but in 2017, that office was also relinquished, leaving Travis to focus his efforts entirely on Westarctica.
Return to Westarctica
- Main article: The Great Return
From April - May 2010, Travis received impassioned pleas from the Cabinet of Westarctica, asking him to take action to restore Westarctica's prestige in the micronational community. After his departure from the throne in 2006, Westarctica had suffered several blows to its image as a sovereign nation, including the loss of its official website and a prolonged conflict with other Antarctic micronations.
The ruler of Westarctica at that time was Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence, who had previously served as Westarctica's chief herald and had assumed the throne from Grand Duke Philip in 2008. His rule had been criticized from Westarcticans and foreigners alike as both aggressively hostile as well as isolationist and, ultimately, negligent.
To fulfill the wishes of the people of Westarctica, from May - June 2010, Travis participated in a coup to remove Jon-Lawrence from the throne. The coup was successful and on 4 June, a Transitional Government was proclaimed that effectively reduced Westarctica's sovereign status to that of a Protectorate (unofficially a protectorate of Calsahara). As he was still King of Calsahara, rather than take the title of Grand Duke, Travis adopted the title "Protector of Westarctica" and gave Westarctica's Minister of Defense, Wolf Tulier, the position of Prime Minister.
Restoration of the throne
On 21 September 2012, Travis declared an end to the Transitional Government which had been ruling Westarctica as a protectorate and formally reclaimed the title of Grand Duke of Westarctica.
Later, on 5 December 2014, Travis incorporated Westarctica as a non-profit corporation in the state of California, thereby also becoming the Executive Director of Westarctica.
From December 2014 onward, Grand Duke Travis has grown Westarctica to a status few previously thought possible with its highest citizen counts ever and a dramatic expansion of the Peerage of Westarctica. For the first time in its history, the Government of Westarctica became financially solvent and was able to meet its operating expenses exclusively through the donations of its supporters.
Utilizing the lessons he had learned from his years as a micronationalist, the newly-restored Grand Duke Travis leveraged his abilities as a public speaker and put his many years of experience as an actor to use by becoming a living symbol of Westarctica, its values, and its people.
From 2007 - 2013, the Grand Duke was a professional actor, appearing in over 100 stage and screen productions including: Body of Lies with Russell Crowe, Ambushed with Dolph Lundgren, True Indigo with Keith David, as well as the stage plays: The Shock of Recognition with Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), The Jungle Book with James McMenamin (Orange is the New Black) and leading roles in Annie, Oedipus Rex, Send Me No Flowers. He also played "royal roles" as Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter, Richard III in Richard and Anne, and King Claudius in Hamlet.
In 2013, he was invited to audition for the original Broadway production of the musical Allegiance by famed Star Trek actor and gay advocate, George Takei, but was ultimately not selected for the cast.
In 2014, Travis was asked to perform the role of the Count of Monte Cristo in Griffith Frank's musical adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo based on a previous French-language production. Although Travis recorded extensive dialogue tracks for the demo CD, the musical has not yet found financial backing to come to the stage.
In addition to acting, he has written many books including Into the Abyss: The Memoirs of a Paranormal Adventurer and The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Westarctica, a personal memoir of his involvement with Westarctica.
In 2018, Travis founded Bloodstone Studios, a publishing company that creates Tarot decks and limited edition books. Through this enterprise, he has released four Tarot / oracle decks including The Oracle of Heaven and Hell and The Tarot of Vlad Dracula. Three of his decks have also been licensed and published by Rockpool Publishing as The Occult Tarot and The Angel Tarot.
In 2022, he released the book Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen: A Historical Compendium, a selection of biographical sketches of famous occultists from throughout history.
Grand Duke Travis' first official consort was the Consular-Consort, Rebecca St. Ann, who is the mother of Prince Ashton Roman.
His second official consort was the Marquise of Walgreen, who became Grand Duchess Cathryn after marrying the Grand Duke in 2004. She is the mother of Prince Daniel Nicholas.
In 2013, after divorcing Grand Duchess Cathryn, the Grand Duke publicly came out of the closet. Three years later, he married Westarctica's Minister of Technology, the Marquis of Sarnoff, who was given the title Prince-Consort Dinny. They divorced in November 2022.
- Main article: List of Titles and Honorifics of Grand Duke Travis
The Grand Duke's full title as used in his capacity as Head of State of Westarctica is: His Royal Highness, Travis, Grand Duke of Westarctica, Overlord of Calsahara, Sultan of Raphania, Prince of Hollick-Kenyon, Marquis of Thwaites, Baron of Suchland, and Baron of Flandrensis.
His Royal Highness also has many subordinate titles, most of which come from realms he previously ruled or various honorifics that have been granted by foreign governments. Additionally, he still possesses a litany of unused titles from his time as King of Calsahara, none of which were abandoned when he quit the throne.
In his capacity as ruler of the Colony of Raphania, the Grand Duke uses the additional style "His Sultanic Highness."
Honors and Awards
Grand Duke Travis has received numerous awards, knighthoods, and honorary military appointments as a result of his diplomatic outreach and cooperation with foreign nations.
Honors of Westarctica and its Territories
- Knight in the Illustrious Antarctic Order of the Orca, 2019
- Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Snowflake, 2015
- Knight in the Noble Order of Westarctica, 2005
- Grand Knight Commander in the Holy Order of The Cross, 2005
- Knight Commander in the Noble Order of the Sword, 2005
- Knight in the Order of Merit (abolished, but authorized for wear), 2005
- Grand Knight Commander in the Order of the Desert Heart, 2009
- General of the Legion in the Legion of Peace, 2009
- Master of the Universe in the Masters of the Universe (abolished, but authorized for wear), 2009
- Grand Thespian in the Illustrious Order of Thespians (abolished, but authorized for wear), 2009
- Knight Commander in the Most Honorable Order of Kolios, 2022
- Knight Commander in the Order of the Rose Throne, 2022
Honored Servant of Westarctica
On 18 July 2019, Grand Duke Travis was awarded the Honored Servant of Westarctica (then called the Honored Service ribbon). The award citation read:
"...for excellence in service as the Sovereign of the nation. His leadership and guidance have been essential in building Westarctica into what it is today. This Honor, and its corresponding ribbon are bestowed with the utmost respect and deepest gratitude on this, the 18th Day of July in the year Two Thousand and Nineteen."
Honored Diplomat of Westarctica
On 1 May 2018 Grand Duke Travis was awarded the newly established Honored Diplomat of Westarctica (then called the Honored Diplomat ribbon). The award citation read:
"...for serving the nation in a distinguished and expert manner while hosting diplomatic receptions with representatives from the Republic of Ladonia, the Principality of Aigues-Mortes, and the Republic of Saugeais. These fruitful meetings have helped not only improve relations with our allies, but have also continued to cement Westarctica's reputation of being at the forefront of the micronational community. This Honor is bestowed with the utmost respect and deepest gratitude on this, the 1st day of May in the year Two-Thousand and Eighteen."
- Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Melting Mountain, 2022
- Order of Slabovia, 2022
- Order of the Hesperides, 2022
- Order of the Amethyst, 2022
- Order of Valour, 2022
- Order of Christina I, 2022
- Order of the Pebble, 2022
- Order of Wisdom, 2022
- Order of Creation, 2022
- Order of the Angel, 2022
- Iron Heart of Highguard, 2022
- Certificate of Merit, 2022
- Certificate of Recognition from the Senate, 2022
- Citation of Merit, 2021
- Knight of the Budgie, 2020
- Historian of Dracul, 2020
- Knight Commander in the Order of the Empire of Agber, 2020
- King's Mark of Friendship, 2019
- Slabovian Friendship Medal, 2019
- Queen-Consort's Fellowship, 2019
- Order of the Double Samara, 2019
- Order of the Snail, 2019
- Better Weirder World Medal, 2019
- West Who Medal of Friendship, 2019
- Danduros Medal of Friendship, 2019
- MicroCon 2019 Commemorative Attendance Medal, 2019
- Order of the Ecological Merit of Beremagne, 2019
- Order of the Glennish Empire, 2019
- Order of the Golden Sextant, 2018
- Medal of Micronational Excellence, 2017
- The Desert Palm, 2017
- Order of the Flat Earth, 2016
- Order of the Sconnish Poppy, 2015
- Grand Order of the Pink Flamingo, 2015
- Order of the Lion Rampant (defunct), 2015
- Order of the Blue Primrose, 2015
- Knight of Shiloh, 2012
- Order of the Dragon (defunct), 2012
- Order of the Lion (defunct), 2011
- Friendship Medal, 2011
- Order of the Star (defunct), 2010
- Order of Flandrensis, 2010
- The Austenasian Order, 2010
- Great Order of Vikesland (defunct), 2010
- Order of the Rifle (defunct), 2010
- Order of Honor (defunct), 2010
- Mustachistan War Medal, 2006
- Order of the Shamrock, 2006
- Order of the Mustang, 2005
- Order of the Tiger, 2005
- 2022 - Present: Colonel and Aide de Camp to the Governor of Kentucky
- 2017 - Present: Colonel-in-Chief of the Westarctican Royal Guards
- 2017 - Present: Warden of the Marshes
- 2006 - Present: Grand Admiral in the Molossian Navy
- 2009 - 2017: Lieutenant General in His Majesty's Corps of Engineers
- 2001 - 2008: Intelligence Specialist 1st Class in the United States Navy
- 1996 - 1999: General in the Border Patrol Agency of Casbah