- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
One of the world’s most interesting heads of state died this week. Paddy Roy Bates — ruler of the Principality of Sealand, has passed away at 91:
In the 1960s, inspired by the ‘‘pirate radio’’ movement of unlicensed stations broadcasting pop music from outside Britain’s boundaries, Bates set up Radio Essex on an offshore fort. When that was closed down, he moved in 1966 to Fort Roughs, a disused World War II artillery platform in international waters about 7 miles (13 kilometers) off England’s east coast.
Michael Bates said his father initially intended to set up another radio station, but then ‘‘had the bizarre idea of declaring independence.’’ Rejecting a British order to leave, he proclaimed the fort the Principality of Sealand, declaring himself Prince Roy and his wife Joan as princess.
The 550-square-meter (5,920-square-foot) fort — two concrete towers connected by an iron platform — claimed to be the world’s smallest sovereign state, though it was not internationally recognized.
Bates was tried in 1968 after an incident in which shots were fired from the platform at a British boat. He was acquitted, with the court ruling that Sealand fell outside the U.K.’s jurisdiction.
Bates has lived on the mainland in recent years, reliquishing most political power to his son and regent, Michael. Fellow heads of state, including Queen Anastasia of Ruritania have paid their respects.