THE KINGDOM OF ARAUCANIA
The claim to the throne of Araucania by Orelie-Antoine de Tounens, a French adventurer originally trained as a lawyer , who in 1860 was "elected" to the throne of Araucania and Patagonia by the Mapuche Indians, is a strange tale. This unsuccessful attempt at secession was never recognized by Argentina or Chile, whose sovereign territory the Mapuche Indians inhabited, and two years later he was captured by the Chileans, imprisoned and eventually expelled. His subsequent attempts to gain recognition failed but his heirs, apparently nominated by him, continued to claim this throne and distribute Orders of Knighthood (and at one time even titles). For a history of this claim put out by the supporters of the present claimant, see: http://www.pitt.edu/~jwcst17/kap.html. This claim is taken very seriously by the adherents of the present claimant and indeed the Mapuche Indians continue to assert their independence from Chile, citing this curious episode in their history. The present claimant has given the "Royal Araucanian Orders", and in a book discussing his claims an attack is made on the S.M.O.M.
A supporter of the present Araucanian claimant has assured me that the election of M. Tounens was done in accord with Mapuche tradition, although the election of a European was certainly a novel departure. The election, according to Mr Morrison, Secretary General of the North American Araucanian Royalist Society, was apparently by "acclaim", and the present nominated heir of the original King has continued to take an interest in Mapuche affairs. The Mapuche Indians claim that treaties between themselves and the Republics of Chile and Argentina affirm the independence of the former. But treaties are between equals, and are therefore subject to International law (see for example, commentary on the requirements of sovereignty at www.chivalricorders.org/orders/smom/maltasov.htm) while agreements between non-sovereign entities which are not subjects of international law are subject to local, internal law. If the Mapuche indeed could claim to be subjects of international law, then they could sue in the appropriate Court (the International Court of Justice at the Hague). So far the ICJ has refused to hear their claim.
It has been affirmed on behalf of the Araucanian claim that the "the Kingdom did enjoy some recognition in its time. That recognition did not materialize into any real support, however."
This author has been warned that a series of articles in L'intermediaire des Chercheurs et des Curieux published in the 1970s defamed Prince Philippe, the present claimant. Prince Philippe has apparently successfully sued the publisher of L'intermediaire des Chercheurs et des Curieux for libel on several occasions. On the first of these occassions, in 1971, the French court wrote: "Attendu que la légitimité et la légalité de la transmission du titre de Prince d'Araucanie (avec la qualite d'Altesse Royale) . . . sont historiquement et juridiquement prouvées et demontrees par des actes authentiques nombreux, concordants et positifs . . . Que le requerant est, en raison des faits sus-enoncés, fondé a se dire héritier légitime et légal des souverains d'Araucanie-Patagonie et des Princes d'Araucanie leurs légitimes successeurs . . ." In another recent case, which was appealed and then upheld upon appeal in February 1996, the court ordered Patrick Esclafer de la Rode to pay Prince Philippe d'Araucanie damages in excess of 10,500,000 French francs. These decisions, however, do not mean (as has been implied by the Araucanian royalists), that France legally recognizes these claims; such recognition is the prerogative of the French State and is beyond the jurisdiction of a civil court determining a libel suit.
I have asked the Secretary General of the North American Araucanian Royalist Society of Prince Philippe to produce evidence that the French government have (a) accorded "Prince Philippe" recognition of his titles in any of his civil documents (identity card, passport, etc), or (b) through the Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honor, the only French official legally entitled to grant or withhold authorization to use an Order in France, recognized his right to bestow the so-called "Royal Araucanian Orders". So far the documents requested have not been forthcoming, although the Secretary-General has assured this author that he has seen such Prince Philippe's French passport, and has named two others (unknown to this author) whom he states have also seen it. Quite why the Prince is so coy about producing this evidence, although its existence is used as evidence of his legal recognition by his supporters, is difficult to understand.