Have you ever fancied having your own little nation free from taxation, laws, and rules & regulations by an over pressuring Government?
I have, a little island somewhere in the sun surrounded by calm like-minded people all working together and getting on.
Something similar to the island from the film The Beach would be nice.
There is a small self governing micronation close to the UK and it isn’t quite the self sufficient and self governing paradise I dream of if I am to be honest.
The Principality Of Sealand
In an old abandoned World War II fort in the North Sea 10 km off the Suffolk coast in England is the micronation and Principality of Sealand.
Sealand is owned by and occupied by the family members and associates of the late British Army Major Paddy Roy Bates. Major Bates called himself ‘His Royal Highness Prince Roy of Sealand’
The population of Sealand rarely exceeds five and only has a liveable space of 550 square metres.
Sealand’s claims to its own sovereignty and legitimacy is not recognised by any country however it is the world’s best known micronation and has been cited in many debates as an interesting case on how various principles of international law can be applied to a territorial dispute.
In 1943 the British Government (United Kingdom) constructed several military forts out in the sea as part of their war effort to monitor and report on German mine laying aircraft that were targeting the UK estuaries which were part of vital shipping lanes.
The forts were named Maunsell Sea Forts after the man who designed them for the British Government Guy Maunsell.
Photo Credit An original and untouched Maunsell Fort
They were designed in 1942 and constructed out in the sea, which at that time were classed as international waters; others were built in the Thames, Mersey and Humber estuaries.
There were several types of Maunsell forts but the Principality of Sealand is a structure consisted of a floating pontoon base that has a superstructure of two hollow towers joined by a top deck on which building structures were added.
The facility which is now Sealand was called Rough Towers or Rough Fort and was originally occupied by 150-300 Royal Navy personnel throughout World War II.
The Royal Navy abandoned Rough Towers in 1956 and it was soon occupied illegally by a pirate radio station. Paddy Roy Bates soon arrived and evicted the squatters who then promptly became a squatter himself.
Paddy intended to run a pirate radio station himself from the platform but English law changed making seaborne pirate radio transmissions illegal even if it was from international waters and so he changed his mind.
Roy Bates carried on occupying Rough Towers and on the advice of his lawyer he declared the old abandoned fort a sovereign independent state and named it the Principality of Sealand.
He designed a new national flag along with a national anthem, a currency and passports. He even drafted up a national constitution for Sealand.
Flag and official insignia of Sealand
He had postage stamps issued which were used to send mail from Rough Towers to Brussels in Belgium.
Incredibly a lot of mail carrying Sealand stamps and postmarks were accepted into the Belgium international postal system without surcharges by the Belgium authorities.
Sealand minted its first coins three years after declaring its sovereignty. The Sealand Dollar had a value on par to the American Dollar but as Sealand did not have a real economy the coins were not for mass circulation.
Considering there were no more than 5 people in the nation with no shops or businesses, who would or could use them?
In 2000 Sealand started an offshore Internet hosting company as a way to generate money offering “unparalleled security and independence to users who wish to take advantage of its Internet colocation services.”
It wasn’t successful and Sealand began to build an online casino which was expected to have opened in 2012. I cannot say whether it did or not.
To generate money Sealand also sells nobility titles like Lord, Baron, Count and even Knighthoods via the internet. Prices start from £29.99. The video below shows Ben Fogle visiting Sealand and being Knighted.
Ben Fogle Gets Knighted On Sealand For The One Show
[youtube id=”P_LnPYRSLIc” width=”620″ height=”360″]
A group of fraudsters from Spain started to make fake Sealand passports which were sold in large numbers to Eastern Europeans. It is estimated that around 150,000 passports were in circulation with several linked to high profile crimes.
The Bates family said that they had not authorised the passports and in 1997 they decided to revoke all passports including the ones they had issued in the previous thirty years. Sealand then decided to take bookings for tourist visits instead.
Roy Bates’ government was involved with several confrontations with the British government including one incident where Michael Bates, Roy’s son, fired at a British navy ship that had sailed too close to Sealand’s territory.
Michael was arrested but fortunately for the Bates the incident occurred outside of British territorial waters so no charges could be made.
In 1978 the self-proclaimed Prime Minister of Sealand Alexander G. Achenbach hired several mercenaries from Germany and Holland and took over Rough Towers holding his son Michael hostage while Roy Bates was away .
Enraged Roy Bates assembled his own little army and staged an airborne assault using helicopters and retook the fortress. The invaders were held hostage with Bates claiming they were prisoners of war.
He reluctantly released them under pressure from the outside world. The following video is the story of Sealand and that mini invasion/war.
[youtube id=”m6OisB56whg” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Alzheimer’s disease forced Roy Bates and his wife to move to the mainland where he lived in Essex for several years until he died in 2012 at the age of 91.
Sealand was up for sale between 2007 and 2010 with an incredible asking price of $906 million but they didn’t find a buyer. It was however reported that the BitTorrent website The Pirate Bay were interested in buying Sealand with the intention of setting up servers so that they could run an internet business outside of any countries laws and jurisdiction.
The Principality of Sealand has its own website which you can check out here official website where you can learn more about the history of this strange little micronation or simply buy yourself some stamps, coins or even a title.
Hmmmm Sir CoolsAndFools sounds rather impressive don’t you think?
Sealand’ Pantry: Rarely was this food eaten, mainly fresh groceries from Tesco online were purchased, delivered to the dock, and taken out to Sealand by boat.
Tachyon satellite dish. This was the initial Internet link for Sealand, but had capacity limits (pay per GB). Later an 802.11b link (and then 4xE1 wireless) link was added to shore.
Sealand’s “datacenter”. At a later point there were about 10 more machines and a couple Ethernet switches, nothing more.
Prince Roy and his wife Joan.
Not so sure I fancy living on a platform in the middle of the sea with no garden or dry land around me, do you fancy it? If you found this post interesting then please share using the buttons below 🙂