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Principality of Sealand - Smallest Nation Or Stateless

Updated on December 22, 2011

Aerial Of Sealand With Heliport

photo by maisonbisson of flickr
photo by maisonbisson of flickr

Principality Of Sealand National Anthem

From Pirate Radio To Micronation

With seasteading initiatives making news recently it might be instructional to take another look at an example micronation forming. The Principality of Sealand lies off the coast of Suffolk, England, United Kingdom on Fort Roughs. Once known as His Majesty's Forts the base was originally commissioned by the Royal Navy to protect the port of Harwich, Essex. It was a floating pontoon-type structure that was armed with 3.75 inch AA guns and Bofors 40 mm guns in 1942 as part of World War II precautions against invasions. After being decommissioned for that purpose it was taken by Paddy Roy Bates in 1966 as a place to broadcast his pirate radio station Radio Essex. It is a seastead by some definitions of the word. Unlike other attempts at seasteading, such as the Republic of Minerva, Paddy Roy Bates seemed to be better able and willing to defend his dual towers and did so successfully in 1967 against former fellow occupier Ronan O'Rahilly who desired to broadcast the pirate radio station Radio Caroline from the position. Coined the Sealand Civil War, the battle saw Rahilly use petrol bombs and an M60 machine gun to defend against O'Rahilly's "troops" and that included shooting down a Westland Whirland and killing the pilot by some accounts. He certainly had the right level of insanity required to defend the towers and so the Principality of Sealand was founded September 2, 1967.

But like other seasteading attempts, the Principality of Sealand has not been able to obtain an official recognition of sovereignty by any established land-based nation. It has largely been seen as an "unrecognized state" despite a British court ruling that it held no jurisdiction in regards to the location. This is a problem that any modern seasteading adventure will need to deal with in establishing their new lawless utopia. Even if built in international waters it would seemingly be next to impossible for anyone to recognize such attempts as a true sovereign state. Short of going to war with invading or neighboring countries it seems that it might be a very difficult hurdle to overcome indeed. Despite a flag, currency (Sealandic coins of a quarter dollar, half dollar, and silver and gold one dollar denominations), a national anthem, Sealandic passports and even stamps, the seastead has remained unacknowledged by the outside world.

If a seastead or even a shipstead, as early seasteads such as the Blueseed Project are expected to be, is located close to a nation it most certainly have to deal with the will of said nation. For example, one thing British lawmakers have did somewhat recently is to extend the territorial waters to encompass 12 nautical miles instead of the old 3 nautical mile border. This places the Principality of Sealand in their claimed territorial waters. However, there do not appear to have been any attempts to retake the old fort or interrupt activities through either international or national law. "Prince Roy" claims that this means that the seastead is indeed sovereign and is "de facto" recognized according to lawyers and others that he has consulted with. We cannot be so sure other nations would be so peaceful, especially if Libertarians decide to participate in actions that are found immoral by much of the world.

Despite this, the principality remains quite an interesting case study in the possibilities of such micronation building. More modern history has seen torrent site The Pirate Bay make a move to purchase the island to host their website outside British jurisdiction. That plan somehow fell through and Sealand was subsequently listed on the real estate market for 750 million Euros but has not been sold. There is a movie set to launch regarding the seastead which should be delivered in 2012 or 2013 by director Mike Newell and Sealand looks to open an online casino to help boost its economy sometime in late 2012.

If interested you can stay up to date with the seastead's developments by folliowing @sealandgov on Twitter and at sealandgov.org. There you can read more history, donate, and even check out the Sealand giftshop if you'd like to become an official Lady or Lord or get an "I heart Sealand" t-shirt. Who knows, you might even want to join the population of 27.

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