142. Sealand, The Unofficial Prinicipality

11 Jun

The Principality of Sealand is an odd case, it is an old World War II floating fort 10km off the coast of Suffolk, England. In 1956 the fort was abandoned, then in 1967 Major Paddy Roy Bates, along with his family and some associates occupied the fort, claiming it to be a new and separate principality. The Principality Of Sealand. Originally it was set up for the British Mr Bates to broadcast his pirate radio station. However it soon became more.

He crowned himself king. In 1968 some British workmen came to service a navigational buoy nearby. Paddy Bates claimed the waters to be part of his territory and his son Michal Bates, shot a rifle to scare them off. Then they went to court on firearms charges. The case could not proceed. A that time anything within 5km of the shore was part of the United Kingdom, and the fort fell just outside of that jurisdiction. It was in international waters and exempt from the rules.

The Offical Flag

This was a breakthrough for what was the small settlement. The 550m² continued on and went from strength to strength. In 1975 Sealand passports were distributed and people holding them were called Sealanders or Sealandic. In the same year Bates introduced a constitution, flag, currency and a national anthem. Then came 1978 and a small war.

Alexander Achenbach was a German lawyer and holder of a Sealandic passport, the self-proclaimed Prime-Minister of the sea fort. In August of 1978, whilst Bates and his wife visited England, he hired some assistance. Assistance in the form of German and Dutch Mercenaries. With their assistance they launched an attack on the fort. With speedboats and helicopters they succesfully stormd the tower and took Bates’ son hostage. Upon his return Bates successfully retook the tower and charged Achenbach of treason against Sealand, holding him as a hostage unless he paid 75,000 Deutsche Marks, approximately $35,000.

The governments of the Netherlands, Austria and Germany tried coaxing the British government into paying for Achenbachers release, however the British government referred to the 1975 ruling, they had no jurisdiction. A German Diplomat was then sent from the London Embassy and entered into negotiations with Paddy Bates, after several weeks the ransom was agreed and paid, then Paddy Bates insisted that the visit from the German diplomat was recognition of Sealand as a country by Germany.

Since then little has occurred upon the fort. Sealand claims to be a sovereign estate, but is not due to the lack of recognition from any single sovereign state. It is mainly considered to be the worlds smallest micronation whilst officially just being a quaint little fort, an unrecognised entity in international waters. In 1997 due to around 150,000 illegal copies being in existence all Sealand passports including offical ones were revoked.

In 2006 it caught fire. British emergency services airlifted one person to hospital and a boat was dispatched to extinguish the flames. All damage was soon repaired. Then 2007 saw the interest of the Pirate Bay in the seaborne entity. They attempted to purchase the site in order to form a new headquarters removed from the new and harsher copyright laws in Sweden, the deal fell through. Sealand is now inside the enlarged sea borders around Britain. It remains a separate entity thanks to “lex retro non agit” laws. It is still ruled over happily by Prince Regent Michael whilst Prince Rory and Princess Joan are relaxing in their age.

In other news Sealand is represented by several amateur and unconventional athletes. In 2008 its representative won the World egg throwing Championships. As to what happened to Achenbacher, he formed with an associate a ‘Government in Exile’ On his website his appointed successor, Johannes Steiger, claims to be the legitimate ruling authority of Sealand, he and his government have even produced their own version of Sealandic Currency featuring the likeness of ‘Prime Minister Steiger’. The population of Sealand rarely exceeds 5.

Further Reading


Posted by on June 11, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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2 responses to “142. Sealand, The Unofficial Prinicipality

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    August 4, 2013 at 15:43

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  2. Gash

    June 12, 2011 at 10:47

    Sea-kun! I never knew the government in exile still exisited. Thanks


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