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.

Read more!

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

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, 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.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.