In 1967, Paddy Roy Bates became a pioneer among the founders of micronations when he took possession of the former British military sea fortress HM Fort Roughs and named it an independent nation. With that, Sealand became the first known micronation.

The Principality of Sealand

Originally, Paddy Bates, an ex-major of the British Army, intended to broadcast a pirate radio station from Fort Rough, which was outside the reach of the British authorities. When legal actions were nevertheless taken against him, he modified his plans: since the sea fortress was 10 kilometers off the south coast of England and was thus outside the British territorial waters of the time, it was possible to occupy Fort Rough and to establish an independent nation without actually committing a crime.

Bates took advantage of this legal loophole. The British Government took him to court, but the decision that fell was not in their favor since the Principality of Sealand was outside of British territory. (The sea fortress is still considered British property despite the court ruling, but the since then the British government has made no claim of entitlement.) For Bates, however, after the court case there was no doubt left regarding the recognized independence of Sealand, the nation he founded. He called out a constitutional monarchy with the succession to the throne determined by inheritance. In 1999, Paddy's son Michael took over the governmental responsibilities and enjoys the full support of his family.

The establishment of Sealand was accompanied by some conquests and expulsions. The founders, for example, have even had to protect themselves against a variety of putsch attempts (some of which were violent). The micronation's various business collaborations, for example with the hosting company HavenCo Ltd. and the construction firm Church & East Ltd., have all been of limited duration. Plans to use the principality for tourism or as profitable real estate are revived time and again, but never carried through methodically.

In addition to their projects on Sealand, the mainstay of the "Royal Family" is the fishing industry. Although the fortress is not the permanent residence of the Bates family, it is firmly embedded in the family history and serves as their second home and the location of many family vacations. The platform is also permanently guarded.

The living quarters are located in the two concrete pillars, each of which has seven flights going down to the ocean floor; atop of them, there is a steel platform the size of a football field. Sealand has its own electricity and water supply, but for a longer sojourn the required food and provisions must be brought from mainland as all arrivals and departures are dependent on the weather and can thus not be exactly planned.

Although the outdated construction of the Sealand platform might often seem like a financial burden to its inhabitants, the idea to do something different than everyone else continues to burn brightly in the family consciousness. Therefore, the (by now) three generations of involved family members have made the project a symbol of steadfastness.

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