Principality of Sealand

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Coordinates: 51°53′42.6″N 1°28′49.8″E / 51.895167°N 1.480500°E / 51.895167; 1.480500

Principality of Sealand
Micronation
Motto: E Mare Libertas  (Latin)
"From the sea, Freedom"
Anthem: E Mare Libertas
Location of Sealand
Sealand from above in 1999
Sealand from above in 1999
Organizational structureConstitutional monarchy[1]
Prince 
• 1967–2012
Paddy Roy Bates
• 2012–present
Michael Bates[1][2]
Establishment
• Declared
2 September 1967;
55 years ago
 (1967-09-02)[2]
Area claimed
• Total
0.004 km2 (0.0015 sq mi)
(approx. 1 acre)
Population
• Estimate
2 (2015)[3]
Purported currencySealand dollar

The Principality of Sealand is an unrecognized[4] micronation that claims HM Fort Roughs (also known as Roughs Tower) as its territory. Roughs Tower is an offshore platform in the North Sea around twelve kilometres (6+12 nautical miles) off the coast of Suffolk. Roughs Tower was used as a sea fort in international waters during World War II. Since 1987, the tower has been occupied by the family and associates of Paddy Roy Bates, a former British Army major. Bates took the tower from pirate radio broadcasters in 1967. Sealand was invaded by mercenaries in 1978. Sealand was able to defeat the attack. The platform has been in British territory since 1987, when the United Kingdom made its territorial waters larger.

History[change | change source]

In 1943, during World War II, HM Fort Roughs (sometimes called Roughs Tower) was built by the United Kingdom as one of the Maunsell Forts.[5] Its main goal was to protect the nearby shipping lanes from German mine-laying vehicles. It held 150–300 Royal Navy personnel throughout World War II. The last time it was used by the Royal Navy was in 1956.[6][7]

Occupation and creation[change | change source]

Roughs Tower was used in February and August 1965 by Jack Moore and his daughter Jane. They used it as a base for Wonderful Radio London.

Major Paddy Roy Bates took the fort on 2 September 1967 to use it for his own pirate radio station (Radio Essex).[8] However, he never starting broadcasting.[9] Instead, he declared the independence Roughs Tower as the Principality of Sealand.[10]

In 1968, British workmen entered the claimed territorial waters of the Principality of Sealand to fix a buoy near the platform. Michael Bates (son of Patty Roy Bates) tried to scare the workmen off by firing warning shots from the platform. As Bates was a British subject at the time, he was called to court on firearm charges after the incident.[11] However, the court said that the platform was outside of British waters and the case could not continue.[12]

In 1975, Bates introduced a constitution for Sealand, followed by a national flag, a national anthem, a currency and passports.[13]

1978 attack[change | change source]

In August 1978, Alexander Achenbach, who said he was the prime minister of Sealand, hired many Dutch and German mercenaries to attack Sealand while Bates and his wife were in Austria.[14] They took the platform and took Bates' son Michael hostage. Michael was able to escape and take back Roughs Tower using weapons stored on the platform. Achenbach was charged with treason.[15] He was held there unless he paid DM 75,000 (more than US$35,000 or £23,000).[16] Germany sent a diplomat from its London embassy to Sealand to negotiate for Achenbach's release. He was released after many weeks of negotiation. Roy Bates claimed that the diplomat's visit meant that Germany had de facto recognized Sealand.[17]

2006 fire[change | change source]

Sealand several months after the fire

On the afternoon of 23 June 2006, the top platform of Roughs Tower caught fire because of an electrical fault. A Royal Air Force helicopter took one person to Ipswich Hospital. The Harwich lifeboat stayed nearby Roughs Tower until a local fire tug extinguished the fire.[18] All damage was repaired by November 2006.[19]

Attempted sale[change | change source]

In January 2007, The Pirate Bay, an online media index founded by the Swedish think tank Piratbyrån, tried to buy Sealand after harsher copyright laws forced them to look for a new headquarters.[20] Between 2007 and 2010, Sealand was offered for sale through the Spanish estate company ImmoNaranja[21][22] at a price of 750 million (£600 million, US$906 million).[23][24][25]

Death of founder[change | change source]

Roy Bates died at the age of 91 on 9 October 2012. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for many years. He was succeeded by his son Michael.[26][27] Michael Bates lives in Suffolk,[28] where he and his sons run a family fishing business called Fruits of the Sea.[29] Joan Bates, Roy Bates's wife, died in an Essex nursing home at the age of 86 on 10 March 2016.[30]

Legal status[change | change source]

Map of Sealand and the United Kingdom, with territorial water claims of 3 and 12 nmi (6 and 22 km) shown.

In 1987, the UK increased its territorial waters from 3 to 12 nautical miles (6 to 22 km). Sealand is now in British territorial waters.[31]

Administration[change | change source]

Prince of Sealand
Sealand Coat of Arms.svg
Incumbent
Michael
since 9 October 2012;
10 years ago
 (2012-10-09)
Details
Heir apparentJames
First monarchRoy
Formation2 September 1967;
55 years ago
 (1967-09-02)

Sealand is ruled by the Bates family as its royal family. Roy Bates called himself "Prince Roy" and his wife "Princess Joan".

At a micronations conference hosted by the University of Sunderland in 2004, Sealand was represented by Michael Bates's son James. The facility is now occupied by one or more caretakers representing Michael Bates, who lives in Essex.

Sealand holds the Guinness World Record for "the smallest area to lay claim to nation status".[32]

Sports[change | change source]

The Sealand National Football Association is an associate member of the Nouvelle Fédération-Board. The Nouvelle Fédération-Board is a governing body for football for non-recognised states and states that are not members of FIFA. It administers the Sealand national football team. In 2004 the national team played its first international game against Åland Islands national football team, drawing 2–2.[33]

In 2004, mountaineer Slader Oviatt carried the Sealandic flag to the top of Muztagh Ata.[34] Also in 2007, Michael Martelle represented the Principality of Sealand in the World Cup of Kung Fu, held in Quebec City, Canada. Martelle won two silver medals, becoming the first-ever Sealand athlete to be on a world championship podium.[35]

In 2008, Sealand hosted a skateboarding event with Church and East sponsored by Red Bull.[36][37][38]

In 2009, Sealand announced the revival of the Sealand Football Association and their plan to compete in a future Viva World Cup. Scottish author Neil Forsyth was made President of the Association.[39] Sealand played the second game in their history against Chagos Islands on 5 May 2012, losing 3–1. The team included actor Ralf Little and former Bolton Wanderers defender Simon Charlton.[40]

In 2009 and 2010, Sealand sent teams to play in many ultimate frisbee club tournaments in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands. They came 11th at UK nationals in 2010.[41]

On 22 May 2013, the mountaineer Kenton Cool placed a Sealand flag at the summit of Mount Everest.[42][43]

In 2015, the runner Simon Messenger ran a half-marathon on Sealand as part of his "round the world in 80 runs" challenge.[44]

In August 2018, competitive swimmer Richard Royal became the first person to swim the 12 km (7.5 mi) from Sealand to the mainland, finishing in 3 hrs 29 mins. Royal visited the platform before the swim, getting his passport stamped. He went into the water from the bosun's chair, signaling the start of the swim, and finished on Felixstowe beach. Royal was awarded a Sealand Knighthood by Michael Bates.[45]

An American football team called the Sealand Seahawks was formed in 2021, announcing a game in Ireland against the South Dublin Panthers on 19 February 2022. The Seahawks won the game 42–13.[46]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Information on the Principality of Sealand including Bates Family, GDP, Constitution" (PDF). Artists' Association MUU. Amorph Summit of Micronations. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 MacEacheran, Mike. "Sealand: A peculiar 'nation' off England's coast". www.bbc.com. Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  3. Eveleth, Rose. "'I rule my own ocean micronation'". www.bbc.com. Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
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  5. Zumerchik, John (2008). Seas and Waterways of the World: An Encyclopedia of History, Uses, and Issues. ABC-CLIO Ltd. p. 563. ISBN 978-1-85109-711-1. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  6. Zumerchik, John (2008). Seas and Waterways of the World: An Encyclopedia of History, Uses, and Issues. ABC-CLIO Ltd. p. 563. ISBN 978-1-85109-711-1. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  7. "The Maunsell Sea Forts". HeritageDaily – Archaeology News. 2020-05-20. Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  8. Gould, Jack (25 March 1966). "Radio: British Commercial Broadcasters Are at Sea; Illegal Programs Are Beamed From Ships". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  9. Edwards, Chris; Parkes, James (19 October 2000). "Radio Essex" and "Britains Better Music Station" Archived 17 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Off Shore Echoes. Retrieved 11 May 2011
  10. Ryan, John; Dunford, George; Sellars, Simon (2006). Micronations. Lonely Planet. p. 9. ISBN 1-74104-730-7.
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  36. "Skate Sports". Red Bull. Redbullskateboarding.com. 15 October 2008. Archived from the original on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
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  46. https://www.facebook.com/gridironhub1/photos/a.170494040296142/929577834387755/ Template:User-generated source

Other websites[change | change source]