THE BIRTH OF SEALAND
In the early 60’s, Roy Bates, a Major in the British army, established a radio station, situated offshore on an abandoned ex naval fort named “Knock John”. The theory behind this location was an attempt to bypass the draconian broadcasting restrictions of the time, which permitted little more than formal broadcasting by the BBC.
Roy’s station, “Radio Essex”, and others like it, were known affectionately by the media as “Pirate” radio stations, and were much loved by the British public, as they supplied everything that the BBC did not at the time; Pop music and amusing presenters. In the years that ensued, Roy fought an unsuccessful legal battle with the UK government, which questioned the legality of his occupation of said fort. It was ruled that “Knock John” fell under UK jurisdiction. Smarting from his setback, Roy weighed his options. Another abandoned fortress, Roughs Tower, identical in construction to the Knock John existed further offshore, and crucially, outside of the three mile limit to which the UK jurisdiction extended. Roy proceeded to occupy Roughs Tower, on Christmas eve 1966, with the intention of revitalising his dormant radio station. This was until he conjured a different plan entirely. After consulting his lawyers, Roy decided to declare this fortress island the independent state of “Sealand”, Claiming “Jus Gentium” (“Law of Nations”) over a part of the globe that was “Terra Nullius” (Nobody’s Land). On the 2nd of September 1967, accompanied by his wife Joan on her birthday, his son Michael (14), daughter Penelope (16) and several friends and followers, Roy declared the Principality of Sealand. The founding of this country was marked by the raising of a newly designed flag, and in an extremely romantic birthday gesture, the bestowing of a new title on his beloved wife, to be know from that moment on as “Princess Joan”.