Prince Leonard, who seceded from Australia to form micro-nation Hutt River, dies aged 93

Leonard Casley, a former Western Australian wheat farmer who seceded from Australia to form the micronation Hutt River, has died aged 93.

Better known as Prince Leonard, Casley died early on Wednesday after being admitted to an Australian hospital with a lung infection over the weekend.

The prince, who abdicated the throne to his son in 2017, had lived with emphysema for 20 years.

His youngest son, Prince Graeme, the sovereign of the micronation, told Perth Now his father was “a man of small stature but a man of big shoes”.

“He was so sharp of mind right to the last 24 hours, it was incredible,” Graeme said.

“His emphysema was manageable but he was susceptible to bugs and he was so frail.

“This time he didn’t have any resistance to fight the infection and he slowly went downhill.

“He’s a man that lived three lifetimes, and he did very well to get to 93.”

Casley founded the principality of Hutt River – about 500km north of Perth – in 1970 after a dispute with the state government over wheat production quotas.

The second-largest nation on the Australian continent, Hutt River has its own flag, currency and passports, but is not officially recognised by the government.

After his wheat quotas were cut, Casley lodged a $52m compensation case against the Western Australian government and has claimed he made the decision to secede from Australia when the government reacted by seeking to compulsory acquire his land.

Casley had been locked in a series of legal battles with the Australian Taxation Office for a number of years, and in 2017 was ordered to pay $3m in income tax.

In 1977 he briefly declared war against Australia over what he described as Malcolm Fraser’s hostilities.

“One day one of my friendly senators in Canberra rang me up and said ‘Malcolm Fraser has instructed the tax department to go after you and break you’, and in a very short time we had three court cases in a row,” he told Guardian Australia in 2015.

“I said to the cabinet in here one day, ‘we’ve got to do something about Malcolm Fraser, he’s waging a state of cold war against us, let’s make it a real war’.”