From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
KING ROBERT THE BALD
Pub landlord fights smoke ban by declaring his boozer an embassy
By LUKE SALKELD / 26th June 2007
For pub-goers who enjoy a cigarette with their drink, next week’s ban
will make England a very different place.
So one landlord has claims to have found a loophole to fight the new
law – by declaring his pub to be part of a different country.
The Wellington Arms in Southampton is set to transform itself from a
public house into the official embassy for a tiny Caribbean island.
-Landlord Bob Beech, above, at The Wellington Arms in Southampton with
regular Edward Elder, an old sailing pal of the Island’s king and a
regular at the pub who knighted Sir Bob in a ceremony this month-
If it is successful, the pub would be classified as “foreign soil”,
allowing smokers a haven from the smoking laws covering the rest of
In theory it would then also be allowed to serve cheaper drinks
because the pub would be exempt from VAT.
Earlier this month, the pub was named as the official consulate in
Britain for the island of Redonda, which lies 35 miles south west of
Antigua in the Caribbean.
Landlord Bob Beech is now making plans to upgrade the pub to an
embassy to allow drinkers to continue smoking in his pub.
If successful it would become the only pub in Britain where smokers
can light up after July 1.
Yesterday Mr Beech said: “We are going to apply to turn the pub into
an embassy as soon as possible. I have a legal team looking into the
legalities at the moment.
“I think we would have a lot of regulars if we get it and there would
be the benefit of no VAT on the drinks so there would be no tax on
-Regular Edward Elder knights Sir Bob in a ceremony-
Regular Edward Elder, an old sailing pal of the Island’s king and a
regular at the pub who knighted Sir Bob in a ceremony this month,
said: “I don’t think anybody could stop us doing it.
“It would tickle me pink. We will be declaring our credentials to the
Queen and will see what happens.”
Yesterday a spokesman from the Department of Health confirmed that if
the pub was granted embassy status then it would be exempt from next
month’s national smoking ban.
She said: “The new smoke free law will not be enforceable against
premises with diplomatic status – as recognised by the Foreign and
“For the health of staff and visitors to overseas embassies and
consulates, the Department of Health would encourage these premises to
follow the principles of the new smoke-free law by eliminating second-
hand smoke from their enclosed workplaces and public places.”
The title of “King of Redonda” is hotly disputed, with at least nine
known claimants, but the current ruler is King Robert the Bald, who
was crowned in 1998 and lives on Antigua.
The 60-year-old Canadian, whose real name is Bob Williamson, writes
novels at his Antigua home from where he sails his 72ft yacht St
On May 31, 1998 Mr Williamson sailed to Redonda with Mr Elder and 60
others and was formally declared to be King Robert the Bald.
Redonda is a one mile square remnant of the cone of an extinct volcano
rising almost 970ft from sea level and was discovered in 1493 by
The British annexed the island in the 19th century but it was
successfully claimed by Matthew Dowdy Shiell as the “Kingdom of
Redonda” in 1865.
Since then the Royal lineage of Redonda has largely had a literary
theme, with the title being passed to writers such as John Gawsworth.
Until 1912, the island was inhabited by workers mining guano deposits
used for fertiliser. The island became a dependency of Antigua and
Barbuda in 1967.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “In accordance with the Vienna
Convention the establishment of diplomatic relations between states,
and permanent diplomatic missions, takes place by mutual consent.
“However, Redonda is the territory of Antigua and Barbuda and is
therefore not entitled to have an embassy or a high commission.”