Sealand

From a 2012 obituary of one Paddy Roy Bates, self-declared Prince of an offshore fort called Sealand:

Rejecting a British order to leave, he proclaimed the fort the Principality of Sealand, declaring himself Prince Roy and his wife, Joan, as princess.

The 550-square-metre (5,920-square-foot) fort [consisting of] two concrete towers connected by an iron platform claimed to be the world’s smallest sovereign state, though it was not internationally recognized.

Since an initial attempt to reclaim the fort was rejected by an English court, Britain has largely ignored the breakaway platform.

Despite the lack of legal status, Bates gave Sealand its own constitution, red, white and black flag, passports, stamps, coins, national anthem and a motto, E Mare Libertas: “From the sea, freedom”.

Today, Sealand makes money by selling aristocratic titles and hosting Internet servers.

Sealand is indeed a real place to this day. They even have an official website. Wonderful madness.

The site has a governmental look to it, betrayed by the occasional quirk or informality of language. Here’s a passage from the site about Sealand’s history:

In 1966 Roy Bates a former infantry major in the first battalion Royal Fusiliers whose regimental headquarters strangely enough was the “Tower of London” decided to take over the fortress. It was Christmas Eve 1966.

Roy smarting from a legal battle with the British government over his offshore radio station “Radio Essex” which had broadcast from another abandoned fortress that was found by the British courts to be within UK jurisdiction. These stations were known affectionately by the press as “Pirate” radio stations and were much loved by the British public as they supplied everything that the BBC did not at the time, Pop music and amusing presenters.Roy never did bring his radio station back to life but instead after taking much advice from his lawyers had the idea to declare this fortress island the independent state of “Sealand”. Claiming “Jus Gentium” over a part of the globe that was Terra Nullius.

2nd of September 1967 along with his son Michael (14), daughter Penelope (16) and several friends and followers Roy declared The Principality of Sealand raising a newly designed flag and making his beautiful wife “Princess Joan”. It was her birthday and Roy gave her the best and most romantic present he could think of the title of Princess.

On their page selling aristocratic titles, it reminds potentials Lords, Ladies and Barons, to check their junk mail folder after the transaction. Again, wonderful madness and great potential for a Christopher Guest film.

Paddy’s son, Prince Michael, has a book out, telling of “the truth behind Michael’s kidnap by armed terrorists, his family setting up their own island nation, government sieges, top secret government documents and multiple attempts to bring an end to the Sealand dream.”

I was tempted to do a similar thing for a moment: to begin a search for an abandoned oil rig or similar and to declare it an international liberty zone for Escapologists. But look at Michael’s adventures — too much like hard work, I fear.

“I might die young or I might die old, but I will never die of boredom,” [Paddy Roy] Bates said in a 1980s interview.

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About

Robert Wringham is a humorist and the editor-in-chief of New Escapologist.

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