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Battle of kings for island's crown

IT MAY be the smallest kingdom in the world with a modest five subjects to govern but a war of succession has sprung up on the tiny Welsh island of Bardsey, off the Lleyn Peninsula.

Last month members of the Bardsey Island Trust announced that 70 years after the last monarch died, they had decided to crown a Welsh opera singer as king of the two-mile-by-one island.

Bryn Terfel was apparently delighted and said he would return from overseas engagements in time for his coronation later this month. But yesterday a furniture salesman from Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, announced he was the only surviving heir of King Love Pritchard and was laying claim to the throne.

Ken Pritchard, 56, said he and his four sisters were the great-grandchildren of King Love. "My grandfather was an only son, as was my father, and so am I," he said. "My sisters heard Bardsey Island Trust was planning to give the title to Bryn Terfel and we felt we had to take action to let people know the family had not died out."

Mr Pritchard, who also has a son to inherit the title, said he had no desire to be crowned but he did not want the title to leave the family. "The crown is in the Liverpool Maritime Museum and we have been assured it will not be leaving there. I am not worried about Bryn Terfel being given some other title with a crown from another source but I do object to the implication that the family has died out."

Although the Welsh royal lineage ended in the 15th century, Bardsey hung onto its own royal family until 1927 when King Love died. The royal title died with him.

But Mr Pritchard's claim was greeted with scepticism by Simon Glyn, the director of the Bardsey Island Trust.

"People are coming out of the woodwork all over the place saying, `I'm related to the king'," he said. But he would be discussing Mr Pritchard's claims with him.