(1) The salty North Sea air rushes around you as your small boat cuts through the ocean waves, its outboard motor whines. England’s shoreline is barely visible on the horizon behind you. Before you, in the distance, a faint shape begins to take form. A silhouette of a structure slowly rises from the sea.
(2) You have decided to journey to the Principality of Sealand. As you near, the structure becomes clearer. It looks like a concrete fortress constructed on an artificial platform. A black and red flag, with a white band running diagonally across it, snaps in the wind.
(3) You eye the structure warily. You have heard tales of Sealand, of a brave group of individuals who declared their independence on this platform at high seas. They fought battles to defend it from hostile forces.
(4) Sealand’s story began as a sea fort for artillery. It was to help fight the Nazis during World War II. After the war, it was abandoned.
(5) On Christmas Eve, 1966, Paddy Roy Bates, a former British Army major, climbed from a boat and onto the tower. He was looking for a place to broadcast his pirate radio station, Radio Essex.
(6) Pirate radio was a form of broadcast radio that operated outside the legal limits of government-regulated broadcasting in the 1960s. These stations broadcast without a license. They played the counterculture rock music that was banned in England, and they aired news broadcasts that listeners could get nowhere else.
(7) Months later, Bates redirected his plan. Roughs Tower is located in international waters. On 2 September 1967, Bates declared the platform an independent and sovereign nation. Calling it Sealand, he declared himself its prince. Bates brought along his wife, “Princess Joan,” his children, and several friends.
(8) When it comes to nations, size is not everything. There are countries with immense land areas, such as Russia and Canada. There are countries, such as China and India, with populations in the billions. But there also are micronations. The Vatican, for instance, where lives the Pope – the head of the Catholic Church – is just one mile by one mile.
(9) And now there was Sealand.
(10) But troubles sprang up. Sealand The British government did not like a micronation just off the coast. The British took Bates to court and at the same time demolished all former sea forts. Bates had started his country for fun, but Sealand wasn’t fun anymore. Still, he was determined to keep his tiny nation. “I am not going anywhere,” he said.
(11) The English government pressured all other nations not to recognize Sealand as a country. Not one other country voted in Sealand’s favor. But that did not deter Major Bates.
(12) Then things got worse.
(13) In 1978, Bates was awakened to footsteps on the platform. Flashlight (or “torch,” as the English say) in hand, he went to investigate.
(14) “We’re being attacked!” he yelled to everyone else in his tiny nation.
(15) A group of paid soldiers led by a man, who wanted the property, stormed the platform. The Sealanders had to fight them hand-to-hand. Surprisingly, the brave Sealanders repelled the attackers and defended their home.
(16) Then, in 2006, a faulty generator sparked a blaze that badly damaged the platform. Thankfully, the fire was extinguished and the platform was soon repaired.
(17) Tired of all the problems, Bates put Sealand up for sale in 2007. The asking price was $900 million. Many people wanted to buy the platform, but no one made a serious offer.
(18) Bates died in 2012, but his micronation still stands strong. His family eeks out a living there, making and selling postage stamps and selling Sealand clothing on the Net. But their most bestselling products are titles.
(19) If you want to be royalty, Sealand has made the process simple and straightforward. You won’t own any land – there isn’t any – but you can purchase official documents that recognize you as a Lord or Lady Sealander. The documents make for a unique, memorable gift for a loved one.
(20) Long live Sealand!
Sealand Activity 1
Decide if the italicized word on the left is a verb. If it is, mark Yes and indicate which paragraph it is in.