Tuesday December 15th, 2009

The Death of a Prince

A friend sent me this obituary, calling it a “nonfiction ode to Calvino.” It recounts the life of Giorgio Carbone, who believed that Seborga, a small town in Italy, “was an ancient principality, cruelly robbed of its sovereignty.”

After convincing his Seborgan neighbors of their true significance, Giorgio Carbone was elected prince in 1963. He gracefully accepted the informal title of His Tremendousness, and was elected prince for life in 1995 by a vote of 304 to 4. Voters then ratified Seborga’s independence, which, by the prince’s interpretation, it already had.

Prince Giorgio established a palace, wrote a Constitution, and set up a cabinet and a parliament. He chose a coat of arms, minted money (with his picture), issued stamps (with his picture) and license plates, selected a national anthem and mobilized a standing army, consisting of Lt. Antonello Lacala. He adopted a motto: Sub umbra sede (Sit in the shade).