Prince Michael of Sealand
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.