Is it legal for John Doe, in the UK, to claim to be king of the UK and insist on being called His Majesty King John II?

I'm not asking about impersonating the actual monarch (e.g. claiming to be King Charles III), but keeping one's real name but calling oneself King or Queen.

  • 4
    Wasn't there an Emperor of San Francisco ... or similar? :) Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 20:53
  • 5
    @paulgarrett There was indeed. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Norton But the issue was a bit different than it would be in the U.K. where there actually is a king.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 21:18
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    Idi Amin, once the leader of Uganda, called himself "King of Scotland". Not because he actually claimed it but to rub the British up the wrong way. Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 21:32
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    I'm not versed in the law, but I would think in many places it's illegal to pretend to be anyone else, not only the British monarch. It being false impersonation
    – Ivo
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 6:36
  • 6
    @Neil - did you mean 'King of the Britons? Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


It depends where one does this. In the UK, I believe it is a crime to falsely claim to be the monarch. Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for doing so. The charge was treason.

In any other places it is probably not a crime, but might be viewed as evidence of insanity.

A comment mentioned Emperor Norton who lived from 1818 to 1880, largely in the US city of San Francisco. He proclaimed himself "Emperor of the United States". He was treated as a piece of "local color", not as a criminal. According to the Wikipedia article on him (linked above):

Norton had no formal political power; nevertheless, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments that he frequented. Some considered him insane or eccentric, but citizens of San Francisco celebrated his imperial presence and his proclamations, such as his order that the United States Congress be dissolved by force and his numerous decrees calling for the construction of a bridge and tunnel crossing San Francisco Bay to connect San Francisco with Oakland. Though Norton received many favors from the city, merchants also capitalized on his notoriety by selling souvenirs bearing his name.

  • This conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Pat W.
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 20:27
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    If calling yourself "the King of England" was considered an insult to King Charles |||, then it might be illegal in Germany.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 10:41
  • Lady Jane Grey was likely mislead and arguably, was queen for several days.
    – Jodrell
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 11:27
  • There is the legendary prank by Hape Kerkeling, now more than 30 years ago, when he pretended to be Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and drove with a limousine to the entrance of the presidential residence to have a "lekker" lunch with him. Allegedly he wondered whether it was treason or lèse-majesty cor trespassing but I don't think he was ever charged. Of course being a celebrity sometimes helps. Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 11:54
  • Hmmm. Emperor Norton reminds me of someone orange. Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 14:34

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