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Saturday Live

Prince Michael of Sealand

  • JP
  • 19 Jan 07, 04:26 PM

Michael Bates is the self-proclaimed prince of an abandoned military platform called Rough Towers, which stands six miles into the North Sea off the coast of Essex. This iron platform represents the tiny kingdom of Sealand, which since 1967 has been issuing its own passports, currency, stamps and car registration plates.

Michael's father Roy claimed the tower in 1966 in an attempt to start a pirate radio station that would be beyond the UK's jurisdiction. Michael was there from the start, while on holiday from his boarding school.

Although claiming to be a sovereign nation, as far as the UK Home Office is concerned, Sealand is not recognised as an independent state. However the Bates family believes it has a good case for de facto recognition. Roy was exempt from paying National Insurance contributions while on the platform, and a German ambassador once came to talk directly to the family after the UK government said it had nothing to do with Sealand.

Nowadays, the principality has its own company, HavenCo, to manage its two industries - hosting web servers and offshore financial institutions. As long as the companies are not involved with child pornography or terrorism, virtually anything is allowed (a number of internet gambling operations are run from Sealand). In the event of an invasion of the well-defended 60-foot high platform, HavenCo says it would destroy data rather than hand it over.

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  1. At 09:31 AM on 20 Jan 2007, Anne Coventry wrote:

    How different we all are I was thinking how lovely it was to have Fi back - 10 mins of Sue Perkins is enough for anyone!

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  2. At 09:31 AM on 20 Jan 2007, Faith Bricher wrote:

    Enjoyed your Sealand feature. I remember reading about Sealand in the newspaper in about 1969, when I was a teenager. The idea of having one's own personal island appealed to me. Had no idea it was still going strong after all these years!

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  3. At 09:38 AM on 20 Jan 2007, Maureen Ward wrote:

    I was interested to listern to Prince Michael of Sealand. My son worked on Sealand for a spell, I think it was in the seventies. He showed me photo's he took of storms at sea.
    I did see the fort myself once from a boat, it really looked desolate.

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  4. At 09:42 AM on 20 Jan 2007, Geraldine Wall wrote:

    About the Big Brother thing, I just want to add that Jade herself said in the interview afterwards that she didn't realise that other people didn't argue in the same way she did. Her comments were rude and offensive and the bullying was horrible (as is the press bullying of Jade now) but I do think that there is an interesting sociolinguistic side issue of how people talk (or don't talk to each other) when they're angry and that what is acceptable to some cultural groups is perceived as very inappropriate by others.

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  5. At 09:43 AM on 20 Jan 2007, Ruth Baker wrote:

    Will Ashon's Clear Water, a novel published by Faber&Faber last year (out in paperback in June) references the sea forts and a fictional pirate radio station.

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  6. At 09:49 AM on 20 Jan 2007, wayne bonny wrote:

    is ti possible to emmigrate to sealand

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  7. At 09:50 AM on 20 Jan 2007, Lord Thomas Nixon wrote:

    I have recently recieved a Lordship of Sealand as a gift. Is it genuine?

    Its from www.sealandgov.org

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  8. At 10:20 AM on 20 Jan 2007, martin bemment wrote:

    Sealand is in a good situation to be not only be indendant as a nation but in terms of energy.
    It could very well have the potential to export energy to the main land. Maybe they should consider renting out their territorial waters to a Wnd turbine company to use as a winfind farm.

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  9. At 11:05 AM on 20 Jan 2007, allan crook wrote:

    hi.what did the german ambassador want-really?
    will all be revealed in rhe movie?

    nice idea but better location say off san tropez wud be netter, away from that windchill.

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  10. At 09:36 AM on 27 Jan 2007, Vikky Furse wrote:

    Re:Rob the Rubbish cleaning up mountains.
    As an artist making sculptures, paintings and interventions, I collected discarded hub caps from the roadsides for several month. It was easy pickings. Interestingly loads of new ones have not appeared. I also pick up rubbish from my walks, and the most consistant rubbisher is the drinker of Red Bull.
    All best, great program.
    Vikky Furse

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  11. At 12:53 PM on 19 Mar 2007, winnie the pooh wrote:

    WOW!! I like it!

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