CHIAVARI, Italy – High in the hills above the Italian Riviera of the Flowers sits the small sovereign state of Serborga. It is a self proclaimed principality and up until 2009 the 364 citizens of Serborga were ruled by Prince Giorgio, a bewhiskered grower of mimosa flowers.
That was proof enough for His Tremendousness. After declaring Serborga a principality, Prince Giorgio established a palace, wrote a Constitution and set up a cabinet and a parliament. His grand plan involved eventually having a cabinet of 15 ministers, and a dozen members of parliament.
He established a palace, chose a coat of arms, minted money, (the Luigino with his picture on it), issued stamps (with his picture on them) and license plates. He also chose a national anthem and mobilized a standing army of one, Lt. Antonello Lacala.
Seborga also has its own flag, a white cross on a blue background, a patron saint, St. Bernard and a Latin motto: Sub Umbra Sede - Sit in the Shade.
When Prince Giorgio discovered that the sovereign of Serborga had always been elected by the people, he decided to return to that tradition and hold an election. The villagers were so enchanted by Carbone’s quirkiness that he was elected Prince in 1963.
|The Cobbled Streets of Serborga|
He gracefully accepted the informal title of His Tremendousness and took to the throne with style. While holding court at the Bianca Azzura bar in the center of town, he would wear a uniform decorated with many rosette medallions, a red, a green and white sash and carry a large sword. In 1995 he was elected Prince for Life with a vote of 304 to 4.
His dedication to his subjects was so complete that he never married, telling People Magazine in a 1993 interview that he loved all of his female subjects equally and would never be able to choose one over another.
In his role as His Highness Giorgio I, Prince of Seborga, Carbone didn’t earn a salary. It was never clear if one was ever offered, but as Prince he could help himself to all the ham and cheese he wanted from the village store without paying, a privilege he took advantage of every day.
Even though the Italian government never took him seriously, Carbone managed to convince about 20 states to recognize Serborga as an independent entity. The first to step up was Burkina Faso. He also established Consular representation in 10 other countries.
After a 46 year reign, His Tremendousness died in 2009 at the age of 73. He left no heirs and Seborga’s royal destiny is still uncertain. So far no one has come forward to claim the throne, but there is always hope that somewhere there is another Seborga prince out there and this story won't end with Prince Giorgio.