Is Sealand an Independent Country?
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The Principality of Sealand is an
unrecognised entity, located on HM Fort
Roughs, a former World War II Maunsell
Sea Fort in the North Sea 10 km (six
miles) off the coast of Suffolk, England
(51°53'40"N, 1°28'57"E). Since 1967, the
facility has been occupied by the former
British Major Paddy Roy Bates; his
associates and family claim that it is an
independent sovereign state.

External commentators generally classify
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Quiz #305 Results
Answers to Quiz #305
May 15, 2011
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1.  It is the micro-nation, the principality of Sealand.
2.  Most recently it was the location of an internet company called HavenCo.
3.  May reasons, including the fact that the Prince is aging, and the platform
needs extensive repairs after experiencing a devasting fire.
1.  What country owns this platform?
2.  What is it used for?
3.  Why has it been for sale?

Tineye Alert.  You can find this picture on TinEye,
but you will have more fun if you try to solve the puzzle without it.
Click on thumbnail to see interview with
Prince Michael of Sealand.
Comments from Our Readers
The ruling family is aging and wants to retire from the microstate business.
                                                                                            Joshua Kreitzer

I love this story, why did they never made a movie about it? Great that there are people
in this world that have the courage and the fantasy to do things like this. They have not
only there one coins, stamps and passports, they have there own website also. I can
not stop reading about this. When my son has to write an essay for school I know the
perfect topic...                                                                           
Margreet Brouwer

of his father’s failing health.  Technically you cannot sell a principality.  What they are
looking to do is to transfer 'custodianship' for a price.  [That sounds like selling to me!]
Sealand has its own website .  No one seems to be keeping
it current.                                                                                          
Carol Farrant


Using bing search engine: I entered the words - platform for sale in bay (muddy waters
- means mud coming from somewhere close by). In related searches at bottom of bing
page: oil paltforms for sale - then to smallest country for sale result and then to 2007/ 2010 story which led to a matching photo to contest

Mr. Roy Bates is not related to the English actor Michael Bales nor to the fictional
Norman Bates, caretaker in Alfred Hitchock's movie Psycho.

From my kingdom to yours-                                                                 
Mike Dalton

It is the micronation of Sealand. (not to be confused with the company formerly known
as Sea-Land Shipping Service - largely responsible for the use of intermodal shipping

This platform is used as a sovereign country. (It was extremely difficult to restrain
myself from using quotation marks in that sentence.)

It is up for sale mostly because the Bates family – who are the citizens of Sealand - are
ready to move on.   There is only one family member living there now full time –
bucking the thought that no man is an island.

Thanks again for the fun challenges. The only reason I got this one is I had heard about
them years ago when HavenCo Ltd was in early discussions with them about placing
web servers there that could host gambling web sites that would (in their opinion) fall
outside the jurisdiction of other countries.                                           
Richard Hurley

I would not have gotten this week's quiz without the assistance of TinEye. I kept
looking at the photo all week and kept looking at the flag thinking it was Syrian or
somewhere in the Mideast, due to the colors Red, White, & Black, which seem to
predominate in Middle Eastern Islamic countries with no luck(a waste of Google
electrons!). Anyway...have a great week!                           
Robert W. Steinmann Jr.

I guess they will not have to comply with any given state control except for that of
Sealand. This is the idea, at least.                                                           
Alex Sissoev

I wouldn't mind living there!  I would love to be a resident of nowhere! :)
Stephanie Shaw
Hi Colleen!  This was a cute contest.  I found several articles about oil platforms being
turned into eco-resorts and thought that was the direction this one was heading but I
was wrong.  Had no idea this was the extent of one country - no wonder I couldn't
figure out what flag was flying!
 I like Sealand's motto "E Mare Libertas" - I think the
sea brings freedom too! :)                                                                    
Nicole Blank

My first search was to attempt a match with the flag that can be viewed on the
platform but this did not result in finding a country. A search for photos of sea
platforms resulted in easily finding the location of this week’s quiz topic. At first I
thought of oil rigs but at the same time recognized that this did not really look like one.

It kind of reminded me of staking claims on land and doing core drilling to discover
gold or other minerals. The difference here is that what you get is what is on the
platform and what can be conjured up in the mind of Mr. Bates.

I have to believe that beyond the pomp and glory of naming themselves as Prince and
Princess, the Bates family has seen the possibility of making money from their sea
platform. Tourism, souvenirs, a story for a movie, sports teams representing the
“nation” all have potential for profit. In 2007 the Bates family announced they wanted to
move on with their lives and leave challenges, such as legal battles and a recent fire, of
maintaining this property. I did not read this but have to believe their age is now a
consideration in wanting to sell.                                                              
Don Draper

I am unable to find the answer for this. A co-worker saw the photo and said it was a
great refuge from zombies. :)                                                               
Rebecca Bare
Congratulations to Our Winners

Kathleen Londagin                Carl Blessing
Margaret Paxton             Gary Sterne
Joshua Kreitzer                Angel Esparza
Dennis Brann                Margaret Brouwer
Stan Read                Maureen O'Connor
Carol Farrant                Mike Dalton
Richard Hurley                Debbie Sterbinsky
Stephen Jolley                Arthur Hartwell
Jim Bullock                Tish Olshefski
Robert W. Steinmann, Jr.                Alex Sissoev
Stephanie Shaw                Nicole Blank
Don Draper                Jim Kiser
Diane Burkett                Daniel E. Jolley
Donna Jolley                Milene Rawlinson
The Principality of Sealand
Sealand as a micronation rather than an unrecognised state. While it has been described
as the world's smallest nation, Sealand is not currently officially recognised as a
sovereign state by any sovereign state. Although Roy Bates claims it is de facto
recognised by Germany as they have sent a diplomat to the micronation, and by the
United Kingdom after an English court ruled it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand,
neither action constitutes de jure recognition as far as the respective countries are

On 2 September 1967, the fort was occupied by Major Paddy Roy Bates, a British
subject and pirate radio broadcaster, who ejected a competing group of pirate
broadcasters. Bates intended to broadcast his pirate radio station Radio Essex from the
platform, the abandoned Rough's Tower in the North Sea, northeast of London and
opposite the mouth of the Orwell River and Felixstowe. He and his wife discussed
independence with British attorneys and subsequently declared independence for the
Principality of Sealand on September 2, 1976. Bates called himself Prince Roy and
named his wife Princess Joan. They began issuing coins, passports, and stamps for
their new country.

In 1968, in support of The Principality of Sealand's sovereignty, when British workmen
ID cards are numbered and non-transferable; their validity is limited
and renewable. The term of validity is 5 years. All ID issued by the
Principality of Sealand remain the property of the state. Alteration of
the ID, or the information or photograph it contains is prohibited.
Changes of address, territorial property or any other relevant
information must be reported to the issuing authority of the ID. If the
ID gets lost or stolen, promptly notify the Principality of Sealand.
entered what Bates claimed to be his
territorial waters in order to service a
navigational buoy near the platform,
Michael Bates (son of Paddy Roy Bates)
tried to scare the workmen off by firing
warning shots from the former fort.
Following the incident, as Bates was
charged with unlawful possession and
discharge of a firearm by the British
government. But the court ruled that as the
platform (which Bates was now calling
"Sealand") was outside British jurisdiction,
being beyond the then three-mile limit of the country's waters, the case could not
proceed. That case represents Sealand's entire claim to de facto international
recognition as an independent country. (The United Kingdom demolished the only other
nearby tower lest others get the idea to also strive for independence.)

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

In August 1978, while Bates and his wife were in England, Alexander Achenbach, who
describes himself as the Prime Minister of Sealand, hired several German and Dutch
mercenaries to spearhead an attack of Roughs Tower. They stormed the tower with
speedboats and helicopters, and took Bates' son hostage. Bates was able to retake the
tower and capture Achenbach and the mercenaries. Achenbach, a German lawyer who
held a Sealand passport, was charged with treason against Sealand and was held unless
he paid DM 75,000 (more than US$ 35,000 or £23,000). The governments of the
Netherlands, Austria and Germany petitioned the British government for his release, but
the United Kingdom disavowed his imprisonment, citing the 1968 court decision.
Germany then sent a diplomat from its London embassy to Roughs Tower to negotiate
for Achenbach's release. Roy Bates
relented after several weeks of
negotiations and subsequently claimed that
the diplomat's visit constituted de facto
recognition of Sealand by Germany.

Following his repatriation, Achenbach and
Gernot Pütz established a "government in
exile", sometimes known as the Sealand
Rebel Government, or Sealandic Rebel Government, in Germany, Aschenbach's
appointed successor, Johannes Seiger, continues to claim via his website that he is
Sealand's legitimate ruling authority.

In 1997, a large number of counterfeit passports were found in circulation, many of
which had been purchased by Hong Kong residents fleeing the Chinese takeover of the
British protectorate. The passports were evidently issued by Alexander Auerbacher, the
German who had engineered the failed take-over of Sealand in 1978. There were fewer
than 300 authentic Sealand passports, with an estimated 150,000 (500 times as many)
counterfeits. In response, the Bates family revoked all Sealand passports, including
those that they themselves had issued over the previous twenty-two years.  

In 2000, the The Principality of Sealand came into the news because a company called
HavenCo Ltd planned on operating a complex of Internet servers at Sealand, out of the
reach of governmental control. HavenCo gave the Bates $250,000 and stock to lease
Rough's Tower and the company has the option to purchase Sealand in the future. This
transaction was especially satisfying to the Bates as the maintenance and support of
Sealand has been quite expensive over the past 40 years.

On the afternoon of 23 June 2006, the top platform of the Roughs Tower caught fire
due to an electrical failure. A Royal Air
Force rescue helicopter transferred one
person to Ipswich hospital, directly from
the tower. The Harwich lifeboat stood by
the Roughs Tower until a local fire tug
extinguished the fire. All damage was
repaired by November 2006.

In January 2007, The Pirate Bay attempted
to buy Sealand after harsher copyright
measures in Sweden forced them to look
for a base of operations elsewhere. The
deal fell through.
Paddy Roy Bates exhibits Sealand's German
POWs after failed invasion attempt.…/SealandRadio_2.html
Joan, Roy, and Michael
in Sealand's radio room.…/SealandRadio_1.html
As of 2007, Sealand has been offered for sale through Spanish estate company
InmoNaranja. Since a principality cannot technically be sold, Sealand's current owners
plan to transfer "custodianship". The asking price is €750 million (£600 million,
$950M). Plans for an online casino have been announced.

Today, only Prince Roy lives on the tower of the The Principality of Sealand at sixty
feet above the sea. Princess Joan's arthritis isn't conducive to living on the North Sea
and though the royal family's son, Prince Michael takes care of much of the business
for Sealand, he also lives onshore. The Bateses all maintain "dual" citizenship in the
United Kingdom and Sealand.
More about Sealand
First Edition Stamps
1997 Stamps
2010 Stamps
Sealand promotional video on YouTube.
Click on thumbnail.
The Maunsell Sea Forts were small fortified towers built in the
Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to
help defend the United Kingdom. They were named after their
designer, Guy Maunsell. The forts were decommissioned in the
late 1950s and later used for other activities. One became the
remaining forts occasionally, and a consortium called Project
Redsands is planning to conserve the fort situated at Redsand.

Maunsell sea forts, built in the Thames estuary and operated by
the Royal Navy, were to deter and report German air raids
following the Thames as a landmark, and attempts to lay mines
by aircraft in this important shipping channel.

There were four naval forts:
Rough Sands (HM Fort Roughs) (U1)
Sunk Head (U2)
Tongue Sands (U3)
Knock John (U4)
The design was a concrete
construction; a pontoon barge on
which stood two cylindrical towers on
top of which was the gun platform
mounting two 3.75-inch guns and two
40 mm Bofors guns. They were laid
down in dry dock and assembled as
complete units. They were then fitted
out — the crews going on board at the
same time for familiarisation — before
being towed out and sunk onto their
sand bank positions in 1942.
The naval fort design was the latest of
several that Maunsell had devised in
response to Admiralty inquiries. Early
ideas had considered forts in the
English Channel able to take on enemy
Stages of establishing a
seafort of the seabed.
Blueprint of Sealand, formerly Fort Roughs
Maunsell Forts
1) Has space or territory which has internationally recognized

No. The Principality of Sealand has no land or boundaries at all, it's a
tower built by the British as an anti-aircraft platform during World
War II. Certainly, the government of the U.K. can assert that it owns
this platform.

Sealand also lies within the United Kingdom's proclaimed 12 nautical
mile territorial water limit. Sealand claims that since it asserted its
sovereignty before the U.K. extended its territorial waters, it concept
of being "grandfathered in" applies. Sealand also claims its own 12.5
nautical mile territorial water.

2) Has people who live there on an ongoing basis.
Not really. As of 2000, only one person lives at Sealand and he's
going to move out, to be replaced by temporary residents working for
HavenCo. Prince Roy maintains his U.K. citizenship and passport, lest
he end up somewhere where Sealand's passport isn't recognized. (No
countries legitimately recognize the Sealand passport; those who have
used such passports for international travel likely encountered an
official who didn't care to notice the passport's "country" of origin.)

3) Has economic activity and an organized economy. A State
regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money.

No. HavenCo represents Sealand's only economic activity up to now.
While Sealand issued money, there's no use for it beyond collectors.
Likewise, Sealand's stamps only have value to a philatelist (stamp
collector) as Sealand is not a member of the Universal Postal Union,
mail from Sealand can't be sent elsewhere (nor is there much sense in
mailing a letter across the tower itself).

4) Has the power of social engineering, such as education.
Perhaps. If it had any citizens.

5) Has a transportation system for moving goods and people.


6) Has a government which provides public services and police

Yes, but that police power is certainly not absolute. The United
Kingdom can assert its authority over Sealand quite easily with a few
police officers.

7) Has sovereignty. No other State should have power over the
State's territory.

No. The United Kingdom has power over The Principality of
Sealand's territory. The British government was quoted in Wired,
"Although Mr. Bates styles the platform as the Principality of Sealand,
the U.K. government does not regard Sealand as a state."

8) Has external recognition. A State has been "voted into the club" by
other States.

No. No other country recognizes The Principality of Sealand. An
official from the United States Department of State was quoted in
Wired, "There are no independent principalities in the North Sea. As
far as we are concerned, they are just Crown dependencies of

The British Home Office was quoted by the BBC that the United
Kingdom does not recognize Sealand and, "We've no reason to believe
that anyone else recognises it either."
Sealand flag and coat of arms