How To Start Your Own Country: Episode 84

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A micronation is a small area or group of people that claim to be independent but they aren’t recognized by other countries.

Reading this I kept seeing nation, country and state so I looked it up to figure out what the differences were between them.

A lot of times they’re used interchangeably to mean the same thing. As far as I can tell, A country and a State DO mean the same thing. Country and State are both an independent sovereign territory with people that live there. The United states of America, the country… Is a State. It’s confusing because in the USA were i live we also have divisions within this that we call states. I think it’s because before we united into one country they were individual sovereign states that decided to join together and give of some of their sovereignty to the larger State.

Anyway, these micronations are claiming to be independent sovereign states. To be counted as a sovereign state you have to have these things: land or territory, People who live there, a government, and other countries recognize you as an independent State. Micronations don’t have one of these things. Usually it’s that other countries don’t recognize it.

A lot of these micro nations were formed as protests to different things, others were formed when a landowner claimed their land was a separate country.

The most famous of the micronations is possibly Sealand. Maybe you’ve heard of this one. The story behind it is crazy.

Back during world war 2, in the 1940s England built some platforms out in the ocean on their coast as protection during the war. After the war a lot of these platforms stayed out their in the ocean. I think 3 miles of the coast was counted as England’s water.

But some of the platforms had been built out further than that, into international waters. One of these platforms was named Fort Roughs. By the 1960s their weren’t any military working on these platforms anymore.  I’m not sure who was there first at the Fort Roughs platform. Jack Moore was going to setup a pirate radio station “Radio Caroline”. But Roy Bates wanted it for his pirate radio station “ Radio Essex”.

Ok, so then in 1967 Roy Bates gets Jack and the Radio Caroline people to leave somehow and at some point Roy Bates and his friends are firing guns in the air and throwing some Molotov cocktails. There’s even a bit about leaving one of the guys to dangle from a ladder for a few hours. The exact details are a little cloudy.

Just a year before that  Roy Bates had been living on a different military platform off the coast where he had his pirate radio station. The government shut it down. That’s why He moved to the Fort Roughs platform because it was further out in international waters, but just as he  did this England passed a law that said British citizens couldn’t have pirate radio stations. That’s when it all come together in his mind like a giant jigsaw puzzle. He declared independence from England.

He called himself Prince Roy and his wife, Joan Bates, and two children lived there on the platform with him. He named his country the Principality of Sealand.

In 1967 the English government sent the military to destroy a bunch of the other platforms, some of them were nearby and it freaked them out on Sealand.  So the next year when Government boats were driving…what do you call driving a boat… boating along they got too close to Sealand and some people from Sealand fired some warning shots. The boats left but Roy Bates was summoned to Court in England for the firearms act.

They had legal arguments, the judge thought about it and then decided that since Sealand was outside of England’s waters  they had no jurisdiction. In the 1970s he made a flag, passports, stamps, currency, national anthem and a motto: E Mare Libertas, or from the sea, freedom.

In 1978 a business partner of Roy’s Mr. Achenbach, took over the platform while Bates was away. Bates and Achenbach disagreed about building a casino or a resort, I’m not sure, but this article says that the business partner sent some armed men with a lawyer to Fort Roughs. A different article called them simply business men. They took over the platform. A coup d’etat?

Roy Bates gets together a team of 5 guys and flew in with a helicopter. It got real close but there wasn’t a bloody gun battle. The men gave up and Roy’s partner Mr. Achenbach, since he had been a citizen of sealand, he was charged with treason and sentenced to life on the platform. Finally an ambassador from Germany came and talked him into releasing Mr. Achenbach, who was a German.

In 1987 England extended its territorial waters from 3 to 12 miles which included Sealand now. In retaliation Roy Bates also extended his own waters to include a couple of port towns nearby on the coast.

In 2006 Roy and his wife retired to Spain and their son Prince Regent Michael, the acting head of state has decided to live in Essex (England i guess) and leaves the platform to caretakers.

Roy Bates lived to be 91 years old and he died In 2012. I assume his son Michael still runs the Country from Essex.

Sealand is not recognized by any other countries or by the UN. The UN stipulates that artificial installations don’t count as territory.

I did see that according to Wikipedia Sealand has not disbanded and in fact there is a website sealandgov.org that seems to be the website for the country of Sealand. There’s history of sealand, the founding of Sealand, and you can buy titles of nobility are. A lord lady or baron or baroness 44.99.  Count or countess for 294.99 or a duck (it’s really duke but i think this typo is funny) or duchess for 734.99. You can also buy stamps, t shirts flags, mugs, or a Sealand ID card. So it seems the dream of Sealand is still alive.

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