A Maryland man who claims to be the king of the Isle of Man hopes to visit his subjects next year — but he may find there's no welcome mat.
David Howe, 38, of Frederick, Md., was crowned King David of Mann on March 30 in a stateside coronation ceremony after filing a claim with the British government.
Howe, a small businessman who married his high-school sweetheart, decided to assume the throne after a U.K. genealogist contacted him in 2006 to say he might have a right to the crown.
Howe filed a claim with Her Majesty's Stationary Office on Dec. 20, 2006, they published the claim in Queen Elizabeth II's paper of record, the London Gazette, and after no one objected, they sent him a crown, robe and anointing spoon for the ceremony, he said.
Howe said he "kind of expected the Queen to object to the claim obviously, but after 90 days, nobody had objected. Nobody had contested it."
That sentiment changed once the residents of the Isle of Man got wind of their new "sovereign."
"As far as the Isle of Man Government is concerned the Isle of Man’s sovereign is Her Majesty the Queen, as Lord of Mann," Tony Brown, the island's chief minister, has said. "I am not aware of any valid alternative claim to sovereignty over the Island."
The isle — in the Irish Sea between England and Scotland — has a population of about 80,000 and is best-known for an annual motorcycle race around the island.
Man's lieutenant governor, Sir Paul Kenneth Haddacks, who is the Queen's representative to the island, declined to comment for this story.
A King Drew blog, The King of the Isle of Man, popped up this month, slamming his claims and asking readers to rate Howe as a "dangerous nutter," "harmless nutter," "serious candidate" or just a man with a "Napoleon complex."
Howe visited London in October, but wasn't ready for the cold reception.
"It kind of blew up into something big," Howe said. "I'm certainly not challenging the Queen's authority or sovereignty over the island. I haven't amassed an army or anything like that to invade, so I'm certainly not a threat at all."
King David of Mann has made the royal decision to use his newfound title for charity. He set up a MySpace page and a Web site, royaltyofman.com, where he touts his personal cause, the Malawi Missions Project to help AIDS orphans in Africa. He said that money will be funneled to charities such as World Vision and UNICEF.
And now, through the Web site Nobility.co.uk, he's selling royal titles to benefit the cause. For about $180,000, one can become a duke or duchess. The cheapest title is a knighthood, all yours for just $40,000.
"I realize that we're kind of hitting a different person in a different type of income bracket with the titles," said Howe, who notes they haven't gotten any title takers. "But beyond that, I encourage anybody if they're really interested to sponsor a child through World Vision. For the cost of a latte a week, they could really change a child's life."
The nobility site stresses that because the titles will be bestowed in America, they do not violate the "1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act" making it illegal to sell peerages.
Not much has changed day to day for King David of Mann, who lives in an unassuming home with his queen, a pistol-packing monarch named Pamela, and their princess, 5-year-old Grace.
"We're nobody special," he said.
His friends jokingly call him King Ralph, from the John Goodman movie of the same name, and he occasionally entertains their requests for an informal title, free of charge.
"They’ll rib me enough," Howe said. "And then I’ll say, 'OK, get down on your knees,' but nothing really formal like that."