Meet the Caretakers of Sealand, the World’s Most Stubborn Micronation
Roy Bates, a Pirate radio operator, commandeered an abandoned concrete gun tower constructed during WWII off the coast of England, and declared it to be the independent Principality of Sealand. Learn more about the fascinating history of that micronation and how it has managed to survive over 50 years! Via Atlas Obscura
The offshore installation that would become the Principality of Sealand began as a naval fort in the North Sea, built to shoot down incoming Nazi bombers: two large, cylindrical concrete towers with a metal platform on top, 60 feet above the water. After the war, the four naval forts erected on this part of the coast were more or less abandoned until the early 1960s, when an enterprising group of DJs took them over to use as offshore pirate radio stations. The BBC was Britain’s only licensed broadcaster at the time, and wouldn’t play the pop music youngsters were eager to hear. Bates, who had his hands in a number of offbeat businesses, took over the one known as Fort Roughs and started Radio Essex, helping usher in a colorful time in broadcasting history, as rival radio stations battled each other and the British government for space on the airwaves.
Bates was known as a “hard bastard of the North Sea,” and he and his early crew were known to defend their fort with fists—and firebombs if need be. The pirate radio era came to an end when the BBC agreed to start playing more rock ‘n’ roll, but Bates knew a good thing when he had it, especially since the fort was in international waters. He christened Fort Roughs “The Principality of Sealand” and declared it to be its own country on September 2, 1967. He had big plans, and statehood could only give the experiment a dose of legitimacy.
A constitution, stamps, passports, and a national anthem followed, with Bates, his wife Joan, and kids Penny and Michael as the first Sealanders. Michael dropped out of school at age 14 to assist, which entailed more fights against would-be invaders and the British government. Documents in the National Archives show official exasperation (and even a bit of humor) when it came to the Sealand situation, as its extraterritorial location meant it was unclear what authority the United Kingdom had over it. Indeed, a technical ruling in 1968 affirmed that British law did not apply on the fort. This, coupled with a few other rulings throughout the years (and a visit from a German diplomat), added further credence to the Sealand’s claims of sovereignty. Today the fort is kitted out with living quarters, a full kitchen, and even a chapel.
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.