Principality of Sealand

Principality of Sealand
Flag of Sealand.svg
Sealand Coat of Arms.svg
Coat of arms
Motto: E Mare Libertas
(English: From the Sea, Freedom)
Anthem: E Mare Libertas by Basil Simonenko
Status Current
Location of Principality of Sealand
Area claimed 550 m2

/(6,000 sq ft) (which is all liveable space)[1]

Population 27 (claimed) but only 4 (permit residing as of 2011)[1]
Date of foundation 2 September 1967 [2]
Leadership The Bates Family [3]
Organisational structure Oligarchy, constitutional monarchy
Language English [4]
Purported currency Sealand dollar (pegged in value to USD)[5]
Currency code None
Capital HM Fort Roughs [6]
Ethnic groups European, North American [2]
Demonym Sealander, Sealandic [1]
Claimed GDP US$600,000 (US$22,200 per capita)[2]
Time zone GMT[7]

The Principality of Sealand is an unrecognized 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, United Kingdom (51°53'40"N, 1°28'57"E).[6]

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.[6] External commentators generally classify Sealand as a micronation rather than an unrecognized state.[8] While it has been described as the world's smallest nation,[9] 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 concerned.[6]



History of HM Fort Roughs

In 1943, during World War II, HM Fort Roughs was constructed by the United Kingdom as one of the Maunsell Forts,[10] primarily for defence against German mine-laying aircraft that might be targeting the estuaries that were part of vital shipping lanes; It comprised a floating pontoon base with a superstructure of two hollow towers joined by a deck upon which other structures could be added. The fort was towed to a position above the Rough Sands sandbar, where its base was deliberately flooded to allow it to sink to its final resting place on the sandbar. The location chosen was approximately six miles from the coast of Suffolk, outside the then three-mile territorial water claim of the United Kingdom and therefore in international waters.[10] The facility (called Roughs Tower or HM Fort Roughs) was occupied by 150–300 Royal Navy personnel throughout World War II;[11] not until well after the war, in 1956, were the last full-time personnel taken off HM Fort Roughs.[10]

Occupation by Roy Bates and the establishment of Sealand

Royal Standard of the Prince of Sealand.

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.[12] Bates intended to broadcast his pirate radio station Radio Essex from the platform.[13]

In 1968, British workmen 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. As Bates was a British subject at the time, he was summoned to court in England on firearms charges following the incident.[14] 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,[15] the case could not proceed. In 1975, Bates introduced a constitution for Sealand, followed by a flag, a national anthem, a currency and passports.[6]

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.[16] 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[16] and was held unless he paid DM 75,000 (more than US$ 35,000 or £23,000).[17] 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.[6] 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.[16]

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,[16] Aschenbach's appointed successor, Johannes Seiger, continues to claim via his website that he is Sealand's legitimate ruling authority.[18]

Post-1990 history

Sealand several months after the fire
  • 1997: Because of the massive number of illegal passports in circulation (estimated at 150,000),[6] the Bates family revoked all Sealand passports, including those that they themselves had issued over the previous twenty-two years.[16]
  • 2006: 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.[19] All damage was repaired by November 2006.[20]
  • 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.[21] The deal fell through.
  • 2007 - 2010: Sealand was offered for sale through Spanish estate company InmoNaranja.[22][23] Since a principality cannot technically be sold, Sealand's current owners plan to transfer "custodianship".[24] The asking price is 750 million (£600 million).[22][25][26]
  • 2012: Sealand online Casino is expected to be opened by late 2012 (see #Economy).[27]

Popular culture


It has been reported that a film about Sealand is in production. It was originally pencilled-in for release in 2008,[28] but has yet to be released. Sean Sorensen has been named as the writer, and Mike Newell as director.[29] Michael Bates has verified this claim in an interview on YouTube.

An Austrian documentary film called Empire Me focuses on the micronation movement and covers Sealand.

The film has been pushed back to at least 2012, according to recent interview on YouTube.

The film "Hetalia: Paint it White" features Sealand as a minor character with a functioning sea fortress, stating that if it "helps the other countries, maybe they'll accept Sealand as a real country." Sealand also appears at the end of the movie, no longer a "noppera".

In music

The Battle of Sealand is the first studio album from the American shoegaze band Airiel. It was released in August 2007 on Chicago-based Highwheel Records. The album is named after the Principality of Sealand. According to an article on the Sealand News website, the members of the band were granted the noble titles of Lord in recognition of naming their CD after the micronation.[30] On 30 September 2007, it was announced that they would be the first rock band to perform at Sealand.[31][32] However, the concert did not take place.

In 2011, English art rock group Art Brut announced that they had written a song about the Principality of Sealand for their fourth studio album Brilliant! Tragic!, produced by Pixies frontman Frank Black.[33]

Comics and animation

In the manga and anime series Hetalia: Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaruya, which features stereotyped anthropomorphic personifications of countries and empires, Sealand is a character. Sealand is described as the smallest character in the series, a reference to the fact it is, "The smallest (unofficial) nation in the world". He is depicted as having short blond hair and wearing a blue and white sailor suit. His obscurity reaches far beyond the grasp of the real Sealand.[34]

Government and politics

Legal status

The claim that Sealand is an independent sovereign state is based on the contention that a 1968 decision of an English court, in which it was held that Roughs Tower was in international waters and thus outside the jurisdiction of the domestic courts.[35]

Prince of Sealand
Sealand Coat of Arms.svg
Coat of arms
Roy Bates as Prince
Michael Bates as Prince Regent
Style His Royal Highness
Residence Fort Roughs, Sealand
Formation 22 September 1967
Map of Sealand and the United Kingdom, with territorial water claims of 3 NM and 12 NM shown.
Sealand from above

In international law, the two most common schools of thought for the creation of statehood are the constitutive and declaratory theories of state creation. The constitutive theory was the standard nineteenth-century model of statehood, and the declaratory theory was developed in the twentieth century to address shortcomings of the constitutive theory. In the constitutive theory, a state exists exclusively via recognition by other states. The theory splits on whether this recognition requires "diplomatic recognition" or merely "recognition of existence". No other state grants Sealand official recognition, but it has been argued by Bates that negotiations carried out by Germany constituted "recognition of existence". In the declaratory theory of statehood, an entity becomes a state as soon as it meets the minimal criteria for statehood. Therefore recognition by other states is purely "declaratory".[36]

In 1987, the UK extended its territorial waters from three to twelve miles. Sealand now sits inside waters that Britain claims as its territory.[37]

As a statelike entity

Irrespective of its legal status, Sealand is managed by the Bates family as if it were a recognised sovereign entity, and they are its hereditary royal rulers. Roy Bates styles himself "Prince Roy" and his wife "Princess Joan". Their son is known as "His Royal Highness Prince Michael" and has been referred to as the "Prince Regent" by the Bates family since 1999.[38] In this role, he apparently serves as Sealand's acting "Head of State" and also its "Head of Government".[39] At a micronations conference hosted by the University of Sunderland in 2004, Sealand was represented by Michael Bates' son James, who was referred to as "Prince Royal James."[40] The facility is now occupied by one or more caretakers representing Michael Bates, who himself resides in Essex, England.[38] On 10 February 2007, Matthew Thompson was appointed an honorary president of Sealand.

Sealand's constitution was instituted in 1974. It consists of a preamble and seven articles. The preamble asserts Sealand's independence, while the articles variously deal with Sealand's status as a constitutional monarchy, the empowerment of government bureaus, the role of an appointed, advisory senate, the functions of an appointed, advisory legal tribunal, a proscription against the bearing of arms except by members of a designated "Sealand Guard", the exclusive right of the sovereign to formulate foreign policy and alter the constitution, and the hereditary patrilinear succession of the monarchy.[41] Sealand's legal system is claimed to follow British common law, and statutes take the form of decrees enacted by the sovereign.[42] Sealand has issued passports and has operated as a flag of convenience state, and it also holds the Guinness World Record for "the smallest area to lay claim to nation status".[43] Sealand's motto is E Mare Libertas (English: From the Sea, Freedom).[44] It appears on Sealandic items, such as stamps, passports, and coins, and is the title of the Sealandic anthem. The anthem was composed by Londoner Basil Simonenko;[45] it does not have lyrics.


Sealand has been involved in several commercial operations, including the issuing of coins and postage stamps and the establishment of an offshore Internet hosting facility, or "data haven". Sealand also has an official website and publishes an online newspaper, Sealand News.[46] In addition, a number of amateur athletes "represent" Sealand in sporting events, including unconventional events like the egg throwing world championship, which the Sealand team won in 2008.[47] According to Sealand News,[48] a movie called Sealand is in development for release in 2012.[49] As of 11 February 2007, Sealand is also taking bookings for tourist visits.[50] For a period, Sealand camouflage passports were mass-manufactured and sold widely by a Spanish-based group believed[who?] to be associated with the "exile government" under Seiger. These passports, which the Bates family say were not authorized by them,[16] were linked to several high-profile crimes. All passports were revoked by Roy Bates in 1997.[16]

There was a 2007 census, which was published in early 2008 that can be found here [5].

After HavenCo unexpected collapse, Sealand's government is in the process of building a new online casino. The casino is expected to be opened by the end of 2012, and would employ about 30 employees all of whom would work in Sealand. However Sealand Casino would not potentially be able to expanded due to Sealand's smaller size.[51]


After the 2006 fire, both towers were gutted and still to this day all that is left are a few lights and loose wires.[52] However the platform has been completely redone, with railings, floors and underpadding to keep birds from nesting under the platform (finish early 2007).[53] The building has been completely remodeled and expanded, this includes a new roof/helicopter pad with new directing lights and a solar system.[54] The building includes a two bedroom one bathroom, kitchen, living room, Royal Palace , and a one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, employees' suite.[55] The building also has a one room chapel, public bathroom, security office, Parliament office/rec room, small store, and the office of the Bureau of Domestic and International Affairs (finish late 2007).[56] Then in mid 2008 a new generator was replaced with two new life boats, pulley system and a repair job on the artillery gun.[57]

Coins and stamps

Sealandic coins, from left to right: Half Dollar, Silver One Dollar and Quarter Dollar

Several dozen different Sealand coins have been minted since 1972. In the early 1990s, Achenbach's German group also produced a coin, featuring a likeness of "Prime Minister Seiger".[58] Sealand's coins and postage stamps are denominated in "Sealand dollars", which it deems to be at parity with the U.S. dollar.[59] Sealand first issued postage stamps in 1969, and issues through 1977. No further stamps were produced until 2010. Sealand is not a member of the Universal Postal Union, therefore its inward address is a PO Box in the United Kingdom.[60] Once it is mailed to Sealand's tourist and government office it will then be brought to Sealand, Sealand only has one street address The Row.[61]

A Sealand mailing address looks like this[61]

Bureau of Internal Affairs 5, The Row SEALAND 1001 (c/o Sealand Post Bag, IP11 9SZ, UK)

Sealand noble titles

In recent years the Principality of Sealand has been selling the titles of Lord, Lady, Baron and Baroness through its website at


In 2000, worldwide publicity was created about Sealand following the establishment of a new entity called HavenCo, a data haven, which effectively took control of Roughs Tower itself; however, Ryan Lackey, HavenCo's founder, later quit and claimed that Bates had lied to him by keeping the 1990–1991 court case[citation needed] from him and that, as a result, he had lost the money he had invested in the venture.[citation needed] In November 2008, operations of HavenCo ceased without explanation.[62]


Sealand has official national athletes, including non-Sealanders. These athletes take part in various sports, such as mini-golf, football, fencing, and table football, although Sealand's fencing team competes out of the country.[63] Sealand is a provisional member of the Nouvelle Fédération-Board, a football sanctioning body for non-recognised states and states not members of FIFA.

Sealand claims that its first official athlete was Darren Blackburn of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, who was appointed in 2003. Blackburn has represented Sealand at a number of local sporting events, including marathons and off-trail races.[64] Sealand's official U-20 National Football team is coached by American high school soccer coach Rory Miller and is mostly composed of players from his current and recent past roster at Muhlenberg North High School in Greenville, Kentucky. In 2004, mountaineer Slader Oviatt carried the Sealandic flag to the top of Muztagh Ata.[65] Since 16 December 2007, the Yorkshire-based airsoft team SART (Sheffield Armed Response Team)[66] represents the Principality at airsoft games as its national team. Also in 2007, Michael Martelle represented the Principality of Sealand in the World Cup of Kung Fu, held in Quebec City, Canada; bearing the designation of Athleta Principalitas Bellatorius (Principal Martial Arts Athlete and Champion), Martelle won two silver medals, becoming the first-ever Sealand athlete to appear on a world championship podium.[67]

Sealand is also represented at the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals by the team from Dobbs Ferry High School in Dobbs Ferry, New York. The team members carried the Sealand flag in the 2007 DI Global Finals Opening Ceremony and plan to do so again at the 2008 event.[68]

In 2008, Sealand hosted a skateboarding event with Church and East Ltd sponsored by Red Bull.[69][70][71] Sealand's fencing team is located in the United States, affiliated with the University of California, Irvine. In 2009, Sealand announced the formation of a Football Association and their intention to compete in a future Viva World Cup. Scottish author Neil Forsyth was appointed as inaugural President of the Sealand Football Association.[72]

See also

Sealand fortress.jpg Micronations portal


  1. ^ a b c "Information on the Principality of Sealand" (PDF). Summit of Micronations. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "Information on the Principality of Sealand including GDP" (PDF). Summit of Micronations. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 
  3. ^ "Information on the Principality of Sealand including Bate Family" (PDF). Summit of Micronations. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 
  4. ^ "Information on the Principality of Sealand" (PDF). Summit of Micronations. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 
  5. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g History Of Sealand The Principality of Sealand
  7. ^ "Information on the Principality of Sealand including time zone" (PDF). Summit of Micronations. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 
  8. ^ John Ryan, George Dunford & Simon Sellars (2006). Micronations. Lonely Planet. pp. 8–13. ISBN 1-74104-730-7. 
  9. ^ "JOURNEYS – THE SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY: Simon Sellars braves wind and waves to visit the unlikely North Sea nation of Sealand". The Australian.,25197,22726244-5002031,00.html. Retrieved 10 November 2007. [dead link]
  10. ^ a b c 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. 
  11. ^ "Project Redsand information on offshore defences". Project Redsand. Retrieved 13 November 2007. [unreliable source?]
  12. ^ John Ryan, George Dunford & Simon Sellars (2006). Micronations. Lonely Planet. p. 9. ISBN 1-74104-730-7. 
  13. ^ Gould, Jack (24 March 1966). "Radio: British Commercial Broadcasters Are at Sea; Illegal Programs Are Beamed From Ships". New York Times 
  14. ^ "Welcome to Sealand. Now Bugger Off". Wired News. July 2000. Retrieved 11 November 2007. 
  15. ^ Regina v. Paddy Roy Bates and Michael Roy Bates, The Shire Hall, Chelmsford, 25 October 1968. "Regina v. Paddy Roy Bates and Michael Roy Bates". The Shire Hall, Chelmsford. Retrieved 11 November 2007. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g John Ryan, George Dunford & Simon Sellars (2006). Micronations. Lonely Planet. p. 11. ISBN 1-74104-730-7. 
  17. ^ "Attempt to free captive from private 'island' fails". The Times. 5 September 1978. p. 3. 
  18. ^ "Homepage of Sealandic Government in Exile". Sealandic Government in Exile. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 
  19. ^ Bob Le-Roi. "Sealand on Fire". Retrieved 25 June 2006. 
  20. ^ "Church and East renovation completion". Church and East. Retrieved 2006. 
  21. ^ Graham, Flora (16 February 2009). "Technology | How The Pirate Bay sailed into infamy". BBC News. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  22. ^ a b "'Smallest state' seeks new owners". BBC. 8 January 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2007. 
  23. ^ "Tiny North Sea tax haven for sale". ABC News. 8 January 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2007. 
  24. ^ "News story on Sealand transfer". 8 January 2007.,23599,21026372-1702,00.html. Retrieved 8 January 2007. [dead link]
  25. ^ "Evening Star". Evening Star. 6 January 2007. Retrieved 6 January 2007. 
  26. ^ "For sale, World's smallest country". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 January 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2007. 
  27. ^ "Official home of the online". Sealand Casino. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  28. ^ Hansen, Burke (23 September 2007). "Sealand seeks satellite and movie deals". Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  29. ^ "Sealand News". Sealand News. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  30. ^ [1][dead link]
  31. ^ [2][dead link]
  32. ^ "First live gig to rock Sealand". SourceWire. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  33. ^ "Art Brut Release Fourth Album! Brilliant! Tragic!". Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  34. ^ Himaruya, Hidekaz (w). Hetalia: Axis Powers v2,: 24 (10 December 2008), Tokyopop
  35. ^ "Official History of Sealand". Government of Principality of Sealand. Retrieved 12 January 2007. 
  36. ^ Ryan, John; George Dunford, Simon Sellars (2006). Micronations, The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations. Lonely Planet. pp. 5–6. ISBN 1-74104-730-7. 
  37. ^ "Offshore and offline?". BBC News. 5 June 2000. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  38. ^ a b "Information on Sealand's royal family". Sealand News. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 
  39. ^ John Ryan, George Dunford & Simon Sellars (2006). Micronations. Lonely Planet. p. 8. ISBN 1-74104-730-7. 
  40. ^ "Information on Sealand's royal family". Government of Principality of Sealand. Retrieved 11 November 2007. 
  41. ^ "Information on the Principality of Sealand including constitution" (PDF). Amorph Summit of Micronations. Retrieved 9 November 2007. 
  42. ^ "The Principality of Sealand statutory notices". Government of the Principality of Sealand. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  43. ^ Guinness World Records 2008. Guinness World Records. 2007. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-904994-18-3. 
  44. ^ Note that this is not "normal" Latin; "mari" would be more correct.
  45. ^ "Sealandic National Anthem". Retrieved 15 November 2007. 
  46. ^ "Sealand News". Sealand News. Retrieved 11 November 2007. 
  47. ^ "Sealand News report on Egg Throwing Championship". Sealand News. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008. 
  48. ^ "Sealand News report on Sealand (2008 film)". Sealand News. 28 February 2007. Retrieved 28 February 2007. 
  49. ^ "Overview on Sealand (2008 film)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 1 July 2007. 
  50. ^ "Sealand tourist visits press release". Retrieved 23 June 2007. 
  51. ^ "Official home of the online". Sealand Casino. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  52. ^ [3][dead link]
  53. ^ Isle of Craro. "land for sale in scotland". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  54. ^ Isle of Craro. "land for sale in scotland". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  55. ^ Isle of Craro. "land for sale in scotland". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  56. ^ Isle of Craro. "land for sale in scotland". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  57. ^ Isle of Craro. "land for sale in scotland". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  58. ^ "The Imperial Collection — Principality of Sealand". Empire of Atlantium. Retrieved 11 November 2007. 
  59. ^ "Principality of Sealand". Government of the Principality of Sealand. Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  60. ^ "Royal Mail address for Sealand". Royal Mail.;jsessionid=I1BCVKJXHDFL0FB2IGEUQEQUHRAYOQ2K?catId=400145&pageId=pcaf_a_one_result_rm&_requestid=116508&gear=postcode. Retrieved 10 November 2007. 
  61. ^ a b [4][dead link]
  62. ^ HavenCo “data center” offline?, Security and the Net, 18 November 2008
  63. ^ "Homepage of the Sealand National Football Team" (in Danish). Sealand National Football Team. Retrieved 9 November 2007. 
  64. ^ "Principality Notice PN 025/04: International Sporting Activities update.". Government of the Principality of Sealand. Retrieved 15 November 2007. 
  65. ^ "Legislative Assembly of Alberta". Official Hansard transcripts 24 November 2009, Tuesday evening. 
  66. ^ "Sheffield Armed Response Team (SART)". SART. Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  67. ^ "Program Souvenir Legal" (PDF). Archived from the original on 27 June 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  68. ^
  69. ^ "". 15 October 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  70. ^ "Skateboarder erobern Seefestung vor der englischen Küste". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  71. ^ "Welcome to Church and East". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  72. ^ "Principality of Sealand to have National Football Team". PR Log. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 51°53′42.6″N 1°28′49.8″E / 51.895167°N 1.4805°E / 51.895167; 1.4805

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