eastern shores of Britain

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Sealand several months after the devastating fire of 2006.

Sealand several months after the devastating fire of 2006.

Sealand

The Principality of Sealand is a unique little micronation with a colourful history. Located six miles off the eastern shores of Britain, it is one of four Maunsell Naval Sea Forts deployed by Britain during World War 2. It was originally called Roughs Tower, and was was used to monitor and report German minelaying in the waters off England. During the war, it was home to 150-300 personnel, radar equipment, two 6-inch guns, and two 40mm anti-aircraft autocannons. But after being abandoned by the Royal Navy in 1956, this artificial island on the high seas has been the site of a pirate radio-landing pad, a takeover, a controversial declaration of independence, a coup, and its own miniature war.

In the 1960s, Roy Bates, a former major in the British Army, was among a group of disc jockeys who tried to avoid England’s restrictive broadcasting regulations by setting up pirate radio stations on some of the country’s abandoned offshore outposts, which had been used to fire ground artillery at German aircraft during World War II.

Bates began broadcasting from one outpost within the three-mile limit of England’s territorial waters, and when he was driven from there in 1966 he planned to start a station at Her Majesty’s Fort Roughs, which was in international waters. Instead, he founded Sealand.

On Sept. 2, 1967, Mr. Bates declared it an independent nation, himself its royal overseer and his wife, Joan, its princess. Well It was her birthday.

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