Did you know that the world’s smallest country is called Sealand? It became a Constitutional Principality in 1967 when it was occupied by Sir Paddy Roy Bates. The platform is a completely legitimate nation (tho’ some would argue with that) boasting its own Sealand flag, Sealand national anthem, Sealand stamps and Sealand currency! Barmy.
This platform was actually built in 1943 during World War II as one of the Maunsell Forts, for defence against German mine-laying aircraft that might be targeting the estuaries. It was called HM Fort Roughs.
But actually, Sealand’s more recent history reads like some piratical novel. I’ll give you a brief snippet here courtesy of Wikipedia. Please read it – it’s quite extraordinary!!!
On 2 September 1967, the fort was occupied by Major Paddy Roy Bates, a British subject and pirate radio broadcaster, who ejected a competing group of pirate broadcasters. Bates intended to broadcast his pirate radio station Radio Essex from the platform.
In 1968, British workmen entered what Bates claimed to be his territorial waters in order to service a navigational buoy near the platform. Michael Bates (son of Paddy Roy Bates) tried to scare the workmen off by firing warning shots from the former fort. As Bates was a British Subject at the time, he was summoned to court in England on firearms charges following the incident. But the court ruled that as the platform (which Bates was now calling “Sealand”) was outside British jurisdiction, being beyond the then three-mile limit of the country’s waters, the case could not proceed. In 1975, Bates introduced a constitution for Sealand, followed by a flag, a national anthem, a currency and passports.
In August 1978, while Bates and his wife were in England, Alexander Achenbach, who describes himself as the Prime Minister of Sealand, hired several German and Dutch mercenaries to spearhead an attack of Roughs Tower. They stormed the tower with speedboats and helicopters, and took Bates’ son hostage. Bates was able to retake the tower and capture Achenbach and the mercenaries. Achenbach, a German lawyer who held a Sealand passport, was charged with treason against Sealand and was held unless he paid DM75,000 (more than US$ 35,000 or £23,000). The governments of the Netherlands, Austria and Germany petitioned the British government for his release, but the United Kingdom disavowed his imprisonment, citing the 1968 court decision. Germany then sent a diplomat from its London embassy to Roughs Tower to negotiate for Achenbach’s release. Roy Bates relented after several weeks of negotiations and subsequently claimed that the diplomat’s visit constituted recognition of Sealand by Germany.
Following his repatriation, Achenbach and Gernot Pütz established a “government in exile”, sometimes known as the Sealand Rebel Government, or Sealandic Rebel Government, in Germany, Achenbach’s appointed successor, Johannes Seiger, continues to claim via his website that he is Sealand’s legitimate ruling authority.
It’s sounds like a script for a movie, doesn’t it? And this is all recent history! Amazing, and as I said above, quite barmy!
However, Red Bull (of course) have picked up on this tiny nation and decided to stage a skateboard extravaganza there – well, as much of an extravaganza as the size of the Principality and location would allow. And here it is:
Sealand is active in the sports’ world taking part in various sports although most of their players are non-Sealanders… as you can imagine. They claim that their first official athlete was Darren Blackburn of Canada, who was appointed in 2003 and has represented Sealand at a number of local sporting events, including marathons and off-trail races – which brings the Principality under our scrutiny. We shall have to keep our eyes peeled for more competitive Sealanders out there! With their location they should be masters in the watersports world. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!