Paddy Roy Bates

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Roy Bates
Portrait photograph of Bates
Bates in 1966
Prince of Sealand
In office
2 September 1967 – 9 October 2012
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMichael Bates
Personal details
Patrick Roy Bates

(1921-08-29)29 August 1921
Ealing, West London, England
Died9 October 2012(2012-10-09) (aged 91)
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England
(m. 1949)
OccupationPirate radio entrepreneur
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of servicec. 1940
Battles/warsWorld War II

Patrick Roy Bates (29 August 1921 – 9 October 2012), also known as Prince Roy of Sealand, was a British pirate radio broadcaster and micronationalist, who founded the Principality of Sealand.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Bates was born in Ealing, London in 1921.[3] He served in the British Army during World War II, rising to the rank of major, and was injured several times.[4] He served in the Battle of Monte Cassino in the Italian campaign, and had been with the Eighth Army in North Africa.[5] He then became a fisherman.

Radio Essex[edit]

He then moved into broadcasting via a pirate radio.[6] In 1965, he ousted the pirate station Radio City staff who had occupied Knock John Tower, a Maunsell Sea Fort (a World War II British naval defence platform).[7]

Using the military equipment that was left on the platform, Bates used an old United States Air Force radio beacon to broadcast his station.[8] From Knock John Tower, he ran Radio Essex from 1965 to 1966 and succeeded in becoming the first pirate radio station to provide 24-hour entertainment.

The station changed its name in October 1966 to Britain's Better Music Station (BBMS) after Bates had been convicted of violating Section One of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949. Bates was then fined £100 for his continued illegal broadcasting. Due to insufficient funds, BBMS went off the air on Christmas Day in 1966.[6][9]

Formation of Sealand[edit]

Bates moved his operation to the nearby Roughs Tower, another Maunsell Fort further out beyond the then boundary of the United Kingdom's territorial waters, but, despite having the necessary equipment, he never began broadcasting again.[6]

On 14 August 1967, the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967 came into effect which forbade broadcasting from certain marine structures, namely platforms such as Bates's.[10] 19 days later, on 2 September 1967, Bates declared the independence of Roughs Tower and deemed it the Principality of Sealand.[11]

Ronan O'Rahilly of another pirate radio station, Radio Caroline, along with a small group of men, tried to storm the platform that Bates claimed. Bates and company used petrol bombs and guns to thwart O'Rahilly's attempt. As a result of the conflict, the Royal Navy went to Roughs Tower and were the recipients of warning shots fired by Bates's son, Michael, when they entered what Bates claimed to be Sealand's territorial waters.[11]

Bates and his son were arrested and charged in a British court with weapons charges. The court threw out the case, claiming that the British court did not have jurisdiction over international affairs as Roughs Tower lay beyond the territorial waters of Britain.[11][12]

Bates took this as de facto recognition of Sealand and seven years later issued a constitution, flag, and national anthem, among other things, for the Principality of Sealand.[2][13]

Incident of 1978[edit]

In 1978, a German businessman, Alexander Achenbach along with other Germans and Dutch, invaded Sealand and took Bates's son, Michael, hostage. Bates and others then launched a counterattack in the early hours of the morning to recapture the fort. He held the German and Dutch men as prisoners of war. As one had accepted a Sealand Passport, he was held and convicted of treason while the rest were released.[1] Germany then sent a diplomat to Britain to ask for intervention but Britain claimed they did not have jurisdiction. Germany then sent a diplomat to Sealand directly to negotiate the release of the prisoner.[11] He was released, and the act of diplomatic negotiation was claimed by Roy Bates to be de facto recognition of Sealand, which Germany has denied.[4][14]

Later life and death[edit]

Bates retired and lived in England during his later life. His son Michael was then in charge of the administration of Sealand as "Prince Regent", although he lived on the British mainland.[11] On 9 October 2012, Paddy Bates died quietly at a care home in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex[15] after having had Alzheimer's for several years.[16][17] His funeral took place at Southend-on-Sea Crematorium.[18]

He was survived by his wife Joan and their children, son Michael and daughter Penny.[16] Michael reacted to his father's death by recalling him as a "huge, huge character".[15] "I might die young or I might die old, but I will never die of boredom", Bates said in a 1980s interview.[15]


  1. ^ a b Strauss, Erwin. How to Start Your Own Country, Paladin Press, 1999, p. 132, cited in admin (20 September 2008). "A Brief History of Sealand",; retrieved 11 May 2011
  2. ^ a b Nugent, Helen (8 January 2007). "World's tiniest country seeks new owners to fly the flag". The Times. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  3. ^ Obituary, The Telegraph; accessed 4 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b Bermingham, Finbarr (5 April 2011). "An Interview with Prince Michael of Sealand". Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  5. ^ Bannister, Matthew. BBC Radio 4, Friday, 26 October 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Edwards, Chris; Parkes, James (19 October 2000). "Radio Essex" and "Britains Better Music Station" Archived 17 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Off Shore Echoes. Retrieved 11 May 2011
  7. ^ Frank Jacobs (20 March 2012). "All Hail Sealand". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Roy Bates". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Prince Roy of Sealand". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 11 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Marine, &c., Broadcasting (Offences) Act 1967". The National Archives; retrieved 11 May 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d e Ryan, John; Dunford, George; Sellars, Simon. Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations, Lonely Planet Publications, 2006, pp. 9-12.
  12. ^ "Episode 171: Sealand (8.27.21)". Criminal. 27 August 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  13. ^ "Initial Challenge to Sealand's Sovereignty" Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine,; retrieved 11 May 2011.
  14. ^ Urbina, Ian (15 August 2019). "The Pint-Size Nation off the English Coast". The Atlantic. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  15. ^ a b c Lawless, Jill (10 October 2012). "'Prince Roy of Sealand' Roy Bates dead at 91". The Press-Enterprise. London. Associated Press. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Prince Roy of Sealand aka Roy Bates (passed away 9th October 2012) Obituary". Sealand News. 10 October 2012. Archived from the original on 12 January 2013.
  17. ^ Jill Lawless (AP) (10 October 2012). "Roy Bates, self-proclaimed prince who turned wartime fort into 'nation' of Sealand, dead at 91". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  18. ^ "'Prince of Sealand' Roy Bates dies in Essex". BBC. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012.

External links[edit]

Titles in pretence
New title
Sealand established
Prince of Sealand
with Prince Michael as prince regent (1999–2012)
Succeeded by