Is Sealand a Country?

Sealand even has its own flag.
Sealand even has its own flag.

Sealand is the name of a claimed microstate located on Roughs Tower, a World War II naval base in the North Sea. Although the Bates family has attempted to have Sealand classified as an independent sovereign state, it is classified as an artificial island. It has yet to be recognized by the world nations and cannot be accepted into international organizations like the United Nations.


During the Second World War, the United Kingdom was facing an imminent threat of invasion from Nazi Germany who had taken over France and the Nordic countries. To prevent an actual invasion, the UK government built offshore platforms in the English Channel and the North Sea that would serve as combat outposts and resupply points. One of these points was called Fort Roughs and it had anti-aircraft weapons capable of taking down attacking Nazi aircraft. The facility could host up to 300 Royal Navy servicemen.


Fort Rough was designed as a floating base with two hollow towers that were connected to a deck. Through that deck, it became possible to add other structures should it be necessary. Finally, the structure was taken to the destination and put in place 13 kilometers from Suffolk in mainland UK. The facility was occupied in 1943 up to 1956 when the last Royal Navy personnel left. Despite being in international waters, the United Kingdom laid its claim on the facility meaning that no foreign nation could occupy it.


However, nine years after the last soldier left Fort Rough, Jack Moore became the first civilian to occupy it together with his daughter Jane Moore. Their stay did not last long as on September 2, 1965, Major Paddy Roy Bates took over the platform. His stay at the platform was not without drama as he was involved in gun battles in 1968. When he was taken to court, he could not be prosecuted since the platform was outside the UK jurisdiction. Major Bates then declared the facility independent and introduced a constitution, a national flag, currency, and passports in 1975. German Alexander Achenbach, together with mercenaries, briefly took over Sealand in August 1978 but were defeated by Major Bates. Alexander was captured but released after negotiations with Germany which gave it de-facto recognition as part of the deal to secure his release.

Sealand Today

Despite the zero recognition from the international community, Sealand still functions like an independent state with the Bates Family as the rulers. The constitution which was introduced in 1975 has seven articles which describe the structure of government, laws, the coat of arms, and a preamble. The document gives legitimacy to a constitutional monarchy of the Bates Family. The document also affirms independence. Sealand does have an anthem which does not have lyrics. Currently, James Bates is the head of state of Sealand. The fort has been represented in sporting activities against other unrecognized states and in business as it has been the subject of bids from companies that want to buy it. Stamps and coins have been produced and put into circulation. Passports issued in 1975 have been disavowed by the ruling Bates Family.


The founding head of Sealand, Roy Bates died in October 2012 and Michael Bates succeeded him and he has appointed caretaker administrators who reside in the fort while he stays at Sussex.


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