On the English Channel, about 10 kilometers off the coast of Suffolk, England, stands an abandoned fortress. Who would have thought that this humble building was actually the most famous private country in the world: the Principality of Sealand.
The Principality of Sealand was established in 1967 when former Royal Navy Captain Paddy Roy Bates and his family occupied the abandoned man-made military building and declared independence, claiming sovereignty over the place.
It is unbelievable that armed struggles took place in this small country of less than 600 square meters. In order to maintain territorial integrity and protect national rights, the Principality of Sealand not only confronted British naval patrol ships, but even confronted German government diplomats head-on. In addition, in order to ensure the national economy, the “head of state” Bates asked someone to design the national flag and national emblem for his country, issued stamps, passports and currency with the same value as the US dollar, and developed the tourism industry on this small fortress , established a network company, and even sold the title to the outside world.
Abandoned buildings become “countries” and even sell titles?
The building that Bates occupied was not an isolated island as people imagined, but an abandoned fortress built by man.
During World War II, in order to monitor whether foreign enemies invaded, the British Royal Navy started construction of a fortress – Raging Fortress, also known as Raging Tower. The bottom of the fortress is a barge, which is connected to two high towers, on which a deck is built, and now the deck part of the high tower is exposed to the water. During World War II, about 100 British Royal officers and soldiers were stationed here. At the end of World War II, the officers and soldiers withdrew, and the mission of Raging Fortress was completed and completely abandoned.
The time advances to 1965, the development of the British broadcasting industry is booming, and FM radio appears. Many radio stations are keen to set up a station in a “three no matter” area in order to avoid the investigation of the relevant departments. If the content of the radio program is novel and interesting, it can often obtain higher audience ratings and greater benefits. This made Bates, who had already retired, very excited. He took a group of radio broadcasters to the Raging Fort left behind after the war, and used the radio communication equipment abandoned by the US Air Force to set up a wireless radio station, named “Essex radio station”.
The radio station established by Bates has advanced equipment, low cost, and rich content. It became an instant hit in the UK and gained a super high audience rating. However, it was also classified as an underground radio station by the British government because it threatened the monopoly position of the British Broadcasting Corporation. . Bates was not only fined 100 pounds for this, but also ordered to stop business. Bates was very unconvinced. He was familiar with British law and understood that the current Fort Raging Waves was located on the high seas, which itself did not fall under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. But considering that he is a British citizen himself, Bates accepted the punishment, only to make a bolder decision later.
September 2, 1967, Bates’ wife’s birthday. On this day, Bates, his wife, children and friends announced the formal establishment of the Principality of Sealand on the Raging Waves Fortress. From the moment the Principality was established, Bates exercised sovereignty over his own country and would not be subject to anyone’s jurisdiction.
In order to avoid trouble, Bates asked the foreign ministries of neighboring countries whether the location of Fort Rage was under the jurisdiction of your country. After receiving negative feedback from various countries, Bates determined that the Principality of Sealand had been recognized by neighboring countries, and directly started the road to standardize the Principality of Sealand.
Bates first adopted the revised British Constitution as the constitution of the Principality of Sealand, then designed the national flag and national emblem, and printed a batch of passports in order to recruit more citizens. After that, he issued the currency of the Principality of Sealand composed of his wife Joan’s head and the national emblem, and even made car license plates. Unfortunately, the Principality of Sealand, which is located on the sea, does not have cars.
Although the currency of the Principality of Sealand cannot be circulated, because it is made of precious metals, many people will buy some as collectibles, which also opened up new ideas for Bates. He turned this place of less than 600 square meters into a tourist attraction. With its unique geographical location, interesting stories, and the treatment of being “received” by the “prince” in person, many tourists come here admiringly, and those “slow-salable” currencies And stamps have also become a souvenir for everyone traveling.
Driven by the tourism industry, Bates had a new idea – selling “identity cards” and various titles. This simple idea made the Principality of Sealand a lot of money. The identity certificate of the Principality of Sealand only costs about 24.99 pounds. If you want to have a noble title, you can become a baron of the Principality of Sealand for 99.99 pounds. If you want a higher title, you only need to pay a correspondingly higher price. For example, it costs about 199.99 pounds to become the earl of the Principality of Sealand, and the duke is a little more expensive, which costs 499.99 pounds.
The British Prime Minister sent troops to seize the island, and German businessmen teamed up with gangs to invade
It seems that Bates owns a country easily, but in fact running a country is not easy, and may experience many difficulties from the outside world.
Bates tried to establish diplomatic relations with Britain after the founding of the country, but the British government only thought it was absurd: You established a new country on the fortress I built, and you still want to establish diplomatic relations with me and let me recognize your country status. What is this? Therefore, the United Kingdom sent its navy in 1968 to try to destroy this inexplicable Principality of Sealand.
Faced with this scene, ordinary people would probably disarm and surrender directly, but as a naval captain who participated in World War II, Bates and his family chose to raise their weapons and fire warning shots to resist the behavior of the British navy, and even sent artillery fire to expel the navy. It was also the first time that the British Navy faced such a “hard-hearted” rebel, so it had to report the matter to the Prime Minister for the British Prime Minister to deal with.
The British Prime Minister at the time was Wilson. Considering Bates’ outstanding contribution during World War II, he was unwilling to hurt Bates and his family, so he ordered the navy to retreat. Bates’ Sealand Duchy won the war.
However, the matter did not end there. After all, Fort Raging Waves is an “isolated island”. Bates and his family live here, and they need to go to land to replenish necessary supplies. When they set foot on British soil again, the police took Bates to court in a tough way. The police believe that Bates’ establishment of the Principality of Sealand is an illegal occupation of national territory. However, according to British law at the time, only 3 nautical miles beyond the coastline belonged to British territorial waters, and the Fort Raging Waves occupied by Bates was located 6 to 7 nautical miles away. The final verdict of the court was to acquit the Bates family.
After this incident, the Principality of Sealand became famous in the first battle, attracting countless people to visit, and some people even had bad thoughts after wandering here—a German named Bach tried to kidnap Sealand. The principality is taken as its own.
At first, Bach came here especially for the “Principality of Sealand”. He first spent money to buy an identity card issued by Bates and completed the transformation of his citizenship. Then he gradually gained the trust of the Bates family, and even spent a lot of money to become the prime minister of the “Principality of Sealand”. When Bates and his wife traveled “abroad”, Bach finally revealed his true colors. Together with several Dutch gang members, he kidnapped Bates’ son Michael in an attempt to forcibly seize the “regime” of the Principality of Sealand. In Bach’s view, this place with independent jurisdiction and not subject to any laws is very suitable as a “tax evasion haven”.
However, Bach’s plan was not successful. When Bates heard about the incident, he urgently contacted his friends, quickly formed a defense force including helicopters, landed in the Principality of Sealand, defeated the invaders, and rescued his son. And the “treasonous” Bach became the first person to be imprisoned in the Principality of Sealand Prison (an abandoned utility room).
This armed coup caused quite a stir throughout Europe, and the Netherlands and Germany also sent letters asking Bates to release their nationals. Seeing this, instead of being nervous, Bates was overjoyed. In his view, this directly shows that the Netherlands and Germany have recognized the existence of the Principality of Sealand.
Soon, Bates released several Dutch gangsters, but only Bach remained. He bluntly stated that Bach possessed the passport of the Principality of Sealand and kidnapped the prince. This is “treason” and the crime is aggravated.
Germany was a little helpless and hoped that the UK would come forward to mediate, but the UK had already dealt with Bates several times, and bluntly stated that the “Principality of Sealand” was not under the jurisdiction of the UK, expressing its unwillingness to get involved in this matter. Seeing this, Germany could only send diplomats to negotiate with Bates. After several rounds of arguing, Bates finally agreed to Germany’s ransom.
I thought that the matter would come to an end here, but Bach, who was sent back to his country, was not reconciled. He organized a “government in exile” in Germany, claiming that he was the real ruler of the Principality of Sealand, and completely stood by Bates. opposite.
In order to fight against Bates, Bach issued passports printed with the words “Principality of Sealand” and sold them to many people in the name of the Principality of Sealand. The Principality of Sealand once became the umbrella of many desperadoes.
Many murder fugitives and international drug lords act recklessly in the Principality of Sealand, and the police from various countries are eyeing these people, which finally arouses Bates’ uneasiness. He does not want his country to become a cradle of lawlessness. In 1977, Bates had the guts to annul all Sealand passports, including those issued by himself.
“Three don’t care” Principality online gambling and tax evasion haven?
As time went by, Bates, who was old, was a little bit unsustainable in the management of the country. He appointed his son Michael as the regent to help him govern the country.
By the year 2000 or so, Fort Raging, under the Bates family, had weathered the storm for decades and had been completely modernized, with generators and all the modern gadgets installed. Regent Michael established a company named “Haven” in the Principality of Sealand for the country’s economic development.
When Michael started the company, he only stipulated that everything else could be done here except child pornography and terrorism. But in fact, the company quickly became the home of the world’s gamblers and a tax haven for many. After all, as a company located in the “three no-regards” zone, the Bates family has more say than anything else.
Many online gambling uses the servers of the Principality of Sealand for illegal transactions, so that even if criminal activities are detected by various countries, the police cannot deal with them. This behavior has seriously affected the international security order and quickly attracted international attention. The UK has been seeking a reasonable solution.
In 2006, a fire broke out in the Principality of Sealand due to a generator failure, but there was no fire extinguishing device on the fortress. The “neighboring country” Britain sent a helicopter to rescue it out of humanitarianism, so there were no major casualties. In the second year, Michael personally published a “traitorous advertisement” in the British “Times”-anyone can get this Principality of Sealand, which has a panoramic sea view and is absolutely private, at an 8-figure price. This advertisement caused a great sensation internationally, and some organizations were really moved, but due to insufficient funds, the transaction has not been successful.
Today the Principality of Sealand is well-known and known to many people, but since the real Principality of Sealand has never had more than 5 permanent residents, there are still many disputes about its legitimacy as an independent sovereign state, so it has never been granted any international approval. organization’s approval.
As the builder of the Principality of Sealand and the first-generation “Prince”, Bates has been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease in his later years. Because the Principality of Sealand does not have any medical conditions, in the end Bates still spent his last days in a nursing home in the UK. In 2012, members of the Royal Family of the Duke of Sealand officially issued an obituary on the website, announcing the departure of Prince Bates.
Bates descendants still guard this special piece of land and still profit from the titles sold each year by the Duchy of Sealand. Bates conquered the country and provided a lot of blessings for future generations. For the Bates family, this small private country that has never been recognized is more like a real and interesting dream.