Principality of Sealand

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Principality of Sealand
Micronation
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: E Mare Libertas
From the sea, Freedom
Anthem: E Mare Libertas by Basil Simonenko
Sealand from above
Sealand from above
Status Current
Capital HM Fort Roughs[1]
Official languages English[2]
Demonym Sealander, Sealandic[3]
Organizational structure Oligarchy, Constitutional monarchy
 -  Prince Michael, House of Bates[4]
Establishment
 -  Declared 2 September 1967[5] 
Area claimed
 -  Total 0.025 km2 (All livable space)[3]
0 sq mi
Population
 -  estimate 50+ (2013)[6]
Claimed GDP (nominal) estimate
 -  Total US$600,000
 -  Per capita US$22,200[5]
Purported Currency Sealand dollar
(pegged with the USD)[7]
Time zone GMT[8]
Website
http://www.sealandgov.org

The Principality of Sealand is a micronation located in the North Sea. Its mass consists of what was HM Fort Roughs, a former Second World War Maunsell Sea Fort, off the coast of Suffolk, England, United Kingdom.[1][9]

While it has been described as the world's smallest country,[10] or the world's smallest nation,[11] Sealand is not recognised by any established sovereign state, although Sealand's government claims it has been de facto recognised by the United Kingdom (after an English court ruled it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand as territorial water limitations were defined at the time)[1] and Germany (see below).

Since 1967 the facility has been occupied by family and associates of Paddy Roy Bates, who claim that it is an independent sovereign state.[1] Bates seized it from a group of pirate radio broadcasters in 1967 with the intention of setting up his own station at the site.[12] He attempted to establish Sealand as a nation-state in 1975 with the writing of a national constitution and establishment of other national symbols.[1] Bates moved to mainland Essex when he became elderly, naming his son Michael regent. Bates died in October 2012 at the age of 91.[13]

History[edit]

History of HM Fort Roughs[edit]

Main article: HM Fort Roughs

In 1943, during the Second World War, HM Fort Roughs was constructed by the United Kingdom as one of the Maunsell Forts,[14] primarily for defence against German mine-laying aircraft that might be targeting the estuaries that were part of vital shipping lanes; it consisted of 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 7 nautical miles from the coast of Suffolk, outside the then three-mile territorial water claim of the United Kingdom and therefore in international waters.[14] The facility (called Roughs Tower or HM Fort Roughs) was occupied by 150–300 Royal Navy personnel throughout World War II; not until well after the war, in 1956, were the last full-time personnel taken off HM Fort Roughs.[14]

Occupation and establishment[edit]

Passport stamp from Sealand

Roughs Tower was occupied in February and August 1965 by Jack Moore and his daughter Jane, squatting on behalf of the pirate station Wonderful Radio London.

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 – called Radio Essex – from the platform.[15]

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.[16] 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,[17] the case could not proceed. In 1975, Bates introduced a constitution for Sealand, followed by a national flag, a national anthem, a currency and passports.[18]

Sealand Rebel Government and the 1978 attack on Sealand[edit]

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 on Sealand.[19] They stormed the platform with speedboats, jet skis and helicopters, and took Bates' son hostage who stayed at Sealand while his mother and father were away in England. Bates' son was able to retake the platform and capture Achenbach and the mercenaries. Achenbach, a German lawyer who held a Sealand passport, was charged with treason against Sealand[19] and was held unless he paid DM 75,000 (more than US$35,000 or £23,000).[20] 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.[1] Germany then sent a diplomat from its London embassy to Sealand 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.[19]

Following the former's repatriation, Achenbach and Gernot Pütz established a government in exile, sometimes known as the Sealand Rebel Government or Sealandic Rebel Government, in Germany.[19] Achenbach's appointed successor, Johannes Seiger, continues to claim via his website that he is Sealand's legitimate ruling authority.[21]

Post-1990 events[edit]

Sealand several months after the fire
  • 1997: Because of the massive number of passports that had been issued by Sealand in circulation (estimated at 150,000),[1] the Bates family revoked all Sealand passports, including those that they themselves had issued over the previous twenty-two years.[19]
  • 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.[22] All damage was repaired by November 2006.[23]
  • In January 2007, The Pirate Bay attempted to purchase Sealand after harsher copyright measures in Sweden forced them to look for a base of operations elsewhere.[24]
  • 2007–2010: Sealand was offered for sale through the Spanish estate company InmoNaranja.[25][26] The asking price is €750 million (£600 million, US$906 million).[25][27][28]
  • 9 October 2012: Roy Bates, self-declared Prince of Sealand, died after suffering Alzheimer's disease for several years. He was succeeded by his son Michael.[13][29][30][31][32][33]

Legal status[edit]

The claim that Sealand is a recognised independent sovereign state is based on an interpretation of 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.[34]

Map of Sealand and the United Kingdom, with territorial water claims of 3 NM and 12 NM shown.

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 following a brief hostage incident[which?] constituted 'recognition of existence' (and, since the German government reportedly sent an ambassador to the tower, diplomatic recognition).[citation needed] 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'.[35]

In 1987, the UK extended its territorial waters from three to twelve miles. Sealand now sits inside waters that Britain claims as its territory.[36] The United Kingdom is one of 165 parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (in force since 1994), which states in part V, article 60, that: 'Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf.'[37] In the opinion of law academic John Gibson, 'because Sealand was man-made there was little chance that it would be recognised as a nation.'[36]

Government and politics[edit]

Prince of Sealand
Sealand Coat of Arms.svg
Coat of arms
Incumbent
HRH Prince Michael

since 9 October 2012
Style His Royal Highness
Residence Fort Roughs, Sealand
Inaugural holder HRH Prince Roy
Formation 2 September 1967
Website SealandGov.org

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 styled himself as 'Prince Roy' and his widow '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, United Kingdom.[38]

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 bureaux, 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 (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] being an instrumental anthem, it does not have lyrics. In 2005, the anthem was recorded by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and released on their CD National Anthems of the World, Vol. 7: Qatar – Syria.

House of Bates[edit]

Royal Standard of the Prince of Sealand

The House of Bates is the self-proclaimed royal house of the Principality of Sealand, a self-declared, unrecognised state.[46][47] Aristocratic titles like "Lady", "Baron", "Baroness", etc. were sold via the internet "from £29.99".[48]


 
 
 
Paddy Roy Bates
(1921–2012)
 
 
 
Joan Collins
(born 1926)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lorraine Wheeler
(born 1962)
 
Michael Bates
(born 1952)
 
Penelope Bates
(born 1950)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Liam Bates
(born 1988)
 
James Bates
(born 1986)
 
Charley Holgate
(born 1989)
 
 
 

List of Princes[edit]

Name Picture Reign start Reign end Notes
Prince Roy
(1921–2012)
No image.png 2 September 1967 9 October 2012
  • Founder of Sealand
Prince Michael
(born 1952)
No image.png 9 October 2012 Incumbent
  • Son of Prince Roy
  • Regent for his father from 1999

Economy[edit]

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.[49] 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.[50] According to Sealand News, a movie called Sealand is in development.[51] It was scheduled to be released in 2013[52]

As of 11 February 2007, Sealand is also taking bookings for tourist visits.[53] For a period, Sealand camouflage passports were mass-manufactured and sold widely by a Spanish-based group possibly associated with the 'exile government' under Seiger. These passports, which the Bates family say were not authorised by them,[54] were linked to several high-profile crimes. All passports were revoked by Roy Bates in 1997.[19]

After HavenCo's unexpected collapse, Sealand's government began the process of building an online casino. The casino was expected to open by the end of 2012, and was supposed to employ about 30 staff members to work in Sealand.[55] On February 18, 2013, The ISP had returned and operates normally.

Coins and stamps[edit]

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'.[56] Sealand's coins and postage stamps are denominated in 'Sealand dollars', which it deems to be at parity with the U.S. dollar.[57] 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.[58] 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.[59]

A Sealand mailing address looks like this:[59]

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

Titles of nobility[edit]

Sealand also sells titles of individual nobility including Lord, Baron, Count and those titles' distaff equivalents. Following Roy Bates' 2012 death, Sealand also began publicly offering knighthoods.[60][61]

HavenCo[edit]

Main article: HavenCo

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[clarification needed] from him and that, as a result, he had lost the money he had invested in the venture.[62] In November 2008, operations of HavenCo ceased without explanation.[63]

Structure[edit]

After the 2006 fire, both towers were gutted. However, the platform has since been completely rebuilt, with railings, floors and under-padding (finished in early 2007) to keep birds from nesting under the platform. The building has been completely remodeled and expanded; this includes a new roof serving as a helicopter pad with new directing lights. The building houses a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, Royal Palace with a kitchen and living room, and a one-bedroom, one-bathroom, employees' suite, also with a kitchen and living room. The building also contains a one-room chapel, a public bathroom, a security office, a Parliamentary office and recreation room, a small store, and the office of the Bureau of Domestic and International Affairs (completed in late 2007). In mid-2008 a new generator was installed, as well as two new life boats and a pulley system. At the same time repairs were carried out on the artillery piece.

Sports[edit]

Sealand is not recognized by any major international sporting body, and its population is insufficient to maintain a team composed entirely of Sealanders in any team sport. However, Sealand claims to have official national athletes, including non-Sealanders. These athletes take part in various sports, such as curling, mini-golf, football, fencing, ultimate frisbee, table football and athletics, although all its teams compete out of the country.[64] The Sealand National Football Association is an associate member of the Nouvelle Fédération-Board, a football sanctioning body for non-recognised states and states not members of FIFA. It administers the Sealand national football team. In 2004 the national team played its first international game against Åland Islands national football team, drawing 2–2.[65]

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.[66] In 2004, mountaineer Slader Oviatt carried the Sealandic flag to the top of Muztagh Ata.[67] 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.[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 revival of the Football Association and their intention to compete in a future Viva World Cup. Scottish author Neil Forsyth was appointed as President of the Sealand Football Association.[72] Sealand played the second game in their history against Chagos Islands on 5 May 2012, losing 3–1. The team included actor Ralf Little and former Bolton Wanderers defender Simon Charlton.[73]

In 2009 and 2010, Sealand sent teams to play in various ultimate frisbee club tournaments in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands. They placed 11th at UK nationals in 2010.[74]

From early summer of 2012 Sealand has been represented in the flat track variant of roller derby, by a team principally composed of skaters from the South Wales area.[75]

In the autumn of 2012 the Sealand National Curling team was founded. The team primarily plays out of the Dakota Curling Club in Burnsville Minnesota in the United States. Team Sealand is the 2013 holder of the Alan Johnston Trophy from the Highland Week of International Curling held in Inverness Scotland. Other notable results are 3rd event runner up in the St. Paul Curling Club's Centennial Bonspiel 2013 and 3rd event runner up in the Blazing Brooms of Blaine Bonspiel 2013. Sealand also has a bronze medal finish in the Kansas City BBQ Bonspiel in 2013.

Sealand played a friendly match in aid of charity against an "All Stars" team from Fulham F.C. on 18 May 2013, losing 5–7 .[76][77]

On 22 May 2013, the mountaineer Kenton Cool placed a Sealand flag at the summit of Mount Everest.[78]

Entertainment[edit]

The German hip hop band Fettes Brot shot the video for their 2013 track Echo at Sealand.[79]

A supporting character in the anime and manga series Hetalia Axis Powers was named for the Principality of Sealand. Depicted as a young boy wearing a sailor suit, his obsession with becoming a recognised nation provides much comic relief in the series.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cogliati-Bantz,Vincent. "My Platform, My State: the Principality of Sealand in International Law" (2012) 18 (3) Journal of International Maritime Law 227-250

[1]

References[edit]

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  6. ^ sealandgov (April 16, 2013). "IAMA I'm Prince Michael of the Principality of Sealand. Est. 1967 we're the smallest Independent State in the world. Our tiny nation has seen confrontations with governments and I was kidnapped by armed terrorists.". Reddit. Retrieved November 17, 2013. "We have over 50 citizens but the permanent population fluctuates dependent on work going on at the time. We're also issuing new standard passports to our citizens this year" 
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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°53′44.0″N 1°28′34.64″E / 51.895556°N 1.4762889°E / 51.895556; 1.4762889