Principality of Sealand
image from frimmijimbits.blogspot.com
Ever want to rule your own country? Starting one is not as hard you might think. All you need is cool name and title, a flag, available land and the right media attention. However, there is not much unclaimed land left on Earth and hiring a band of mercenaries for a bloody coup is incredibly risky and expensive. You might have to get creative on finding territory. The late Major Paddy Roy Bates did that and created the incredibly small micronation of the Principality of Sealand.
You might have noticed this word at the end of the last paragraph, “micronation.” I did not make it up. It’s a real word, look it up on wikipedia. It is a self proclaimed, unrecognised “country” usually created as a joke or as a grassroots movement of some kind, although some really do try to obtain real international recognition. They come in various types of governments and range from uninhabited islands and private residents to unclaimed land in Antarctica and even parts of the Internet. I will need to write about more micronations and their leaders in future articles.
image from commons.wikipedia.org
Anyway, the history of the principality started with its founder, H.R.H. Prince Roy of Sealand or his birth name Paddy Roy Bates as I said earlier. Born on August 29, 1921 in Ealing, Great Britain, the future prince served in the British Army during World War Two. He was in the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy and was with the Eighth Army in the African Campaign. Paddy Roy was wounded several times and held the rank of Major by the war’s end. He later worked as a fisherman until he got caught up in the Pirate Radio craze happening in the sixties in Britain. He somehow convinced the staff of the popular pirate radio station, “Radio City,” to give him the old Knock John Tower, a “Maunsell Fort” tower built near the British Isles like an oil rig, to help protect the nation from a German invasion during the war.
The Major founded “Radio Essex” on 1965 and was the first pirate radio with 24 hour broadcasting. The name was changed the following year to “Britain’s Best Music Station (BBMS).” However trouble brewed up the following year. Radio Essex was accused of breaking Section One of the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949 and Paddy was fined £100 for continuous illegal broadcasting. His radio went off the air on Christmas Day in 1966 due to lack of funds. Bates attempted to recreate the station again by moving it to another abandoned Maunsell Fort named “HM Fort Rough” seven nautical miles from the coast, outside Britain’s then territorial waters (then three mile, now twelve). Unfortunately the British government outlawed pirate radio on August 27, 1967. So nineteen days later, on his wife’s birthday, Paddy Roy Bates declared the tower the sovereign state of the Principality of Sealand with him as Prince Roy I and his wife Princess Joan. Even though he had the equipment, the new monarch did not pursue his pirate radio career and instead devoted to his new kingdom.
Shortly after Prince Roy started his reign, the principality had its first military attack. Businessman and owner of rival pirate radio station, “Radio Caroline,” Ronan O’Rahilly, (the same man, I believe, who convinced George Lazenby to quit the “James Bond” franchise after only one movie) attempted to storm the tower and take control of it. The Prince and his companions fought back with guns and petrol bombs, later causing the Royal Navy to interfere. Luckily, from what I have researched on this event, no one was seriously harmed. Still Paddy Roy and his son Michael were taken to trial for weapons charges. However since Sealand was in international waters the charges were dropped. Prince Roy took this as de facto recognition of this nation! By 1975 he would take it to the next level with designing a flag, coat of arms (see above), a national anthem and passports.
image from pinterest.com
Another conflict arose as well in the seventies. Calling himself the “Prime Minister of Sealand” a German lawyer under the name of Alexander Achenbach, with a number of German and Dutch mercenaries invaded Sealand while Prince Roy and Princess Joan were in England and held the heir apparent Michael. However Michael was able to fight back with the weapon stash on the fort and captured Alexander and his forces. Prince Michael wrote about it in his book, “Holding Down the Fort.” He held the invaders prisoners until Germany sent a diplomat from its London embassy to Sealand to negotiate release. They took this as another de facto recognition of the principality.
In 1999 Prince Roy and his wife retired and left Prince Michael as the Prince Regent of Sealand. Roy died on October 9, 2012, with Michael continuing the Bates dynasty. Princess Joan left this world to join her husband on March 10, 2016. The small kingdom’s main national export is selling titles of nobility online. They also print their own stamps and coins, worthless internationally but great oddities for collectors. It also has its own football (as in soccer) team that has played internationally and was a member of the N.F.-Board, the New Football Federation’s-Board, now managed by the Confederation of Independent Football Association, an organization that represents soccer for ethnic or stateless groups, unrecognized nations, microstates (super small countries but generally recognized) and dependent territories. Sealand continues to intrigue people of this generation by portraying the principality as a fan favorite character in the popular anime “Hetalia: Axis Powers.”
image from hetalia.wiki.com