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Minquiers, Bailiwick of Jersey

Last modified: 2002-11-23 by andré coutanche
Keywords: minquiers | jersey | channel islands |
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Two groups of small islands (mainly rocks) belonging to the Bailwick of Jersey in Saint Malo Bay. In 1953 the International Court in the Hague turned down French claim and confirmed British sovereignty.

In September 1998 the French writer, Jean Raspail (who claims to be a lawful king of Araucania-Patagonia) organized an invasion and take-over of Minquiers in the name of the Patagonian Kingdom and in the retaliation for British occupation of Falklands/Malvinas. The blue-white-green flag of Araucania-Patagonia was hoisted by seven "commandos" and plaques and stickers were posted on the buildings. Next day a passing British yachtsman spotted, with horror, unfamiliar flag, took it down and hang the Union Jack over British domain. Jean Raspail agreed later to the flags exchange in the UK embassy in Paris and was surprised by the publicity the prank generated.
Chris Kretowicz, 10 April 2001

The whole story is more or less correctly described but some details are erroneous. First, Jean Raspail never claimed to be a "lawful King of Araucania-Patagonia". The lawful King is still Orélie-Antoine I and Raspail is Consul General of Patagonia. Jean Raspail is not a looney. In material not yet added to our Araucania-Patagonia page, I explain his relation with Patagonia and quote the flag-related pages of his book on the Kingdom of Patagonia. Raspail was involved in several ethnological and exploration missions in America before becoming a successful writer. His books deal with people who decided that their dreams should become reality. Although I don't share Raspail's ultra-conservative and anti-modernist ideology, I must admit the quality of his books.

There was not one but two "invasions" of the Minquiers organized by Raspail. The first invasion took place on 1 June 1984 as "retaliation" of the invasion of the Malvinas islands by the British troops (the Malvinas were Patagonian lands). Raspail himself commanded the "operation". The main island of the Minquiers was "renamed" Port-Tounens, a plaque establishing the "sovereignty" of Orléie-Antoine I was sealed and the Patagonian was hoisted. The flag was the blue-white-green flag, presented on as the "new flag in exile" with very few evidence. Raspail's book, which was based on archives and Argentinian newspapers, never mentioned another flag but this one.

On Sunday 30 August 1998, the second "landing" took place on the Minquiers islands, also organized by Raspail, who was not part of the "expedition". Another plaque, bearing "Royaume de Patagonie - Minquiers - Port Tounens" was sealed and the Patagonian flag hoisted. Raspail refused to say who were the members of the "expdition" and where they sailed from, probably to add some mystery to the case. I don't believe he was "surprised" by the publicity he had surely expected.

[I have placed a lot of words between quotes because it is extremely difficult to admit that Raspail seriously planned to invade the Minquiers on behalf of the King of Patagonia. It was more a kind of "real literary experience", which received some support even on the English side of the Channel.]

Regarding the flag exchange, Raspail acknowledged both in 1984 and 1998 the fair-play of the British authorities, who treated the Patagonian flag with care and honour. He gave back the Union Jack which had been "captured" during the second operation on Thursday 4 September 1998 in the British Embassy in Paris.

My sources are:

  • Communiqué by the press service of the General Consulate of Patagonia (probably written by Raspail himself) - 30 August 1998.
  • A paper by F. Simon in Ouest-France - Patagonia invaded the Minquiers - 2 September 1998 (including an interview of Raspail).
Both texts (in French) are shown on a very poorly designed website,
Ivan Sache, 1 August 2002