I'm the leader of a remote island in the middle of the ocean – it's the 'smallest country in the world' | The Sun

A BRIT is the leader of a remote island in the middle of the ocean – and claims it's the smallest country in the world.

Michael Bates became the leader of "Sealand", a platform 7.5 miles off the Suffolk coast, when his dad Roy died in 1991.

The platform began life as the anti-aircraft station HM Fort Roughs in 1942, during the Second World War.

It was taken over by former army major Roy Bates in 1966, ten years after it was abandoned by the Royal Navy.

Essex man Roy ran pirate radio station from the run-down fort, which was built outside British territorial waters.

On his wife Joan's birthday nine months later he declared it the Principality of Sealand – appointing her its Princess.

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Michael told the BBC: "I was only 14 when I first came out during my school summer holidays to help my dad, and I thought it’d only be a six-week adventure.

"I certainly didn’t think it’d be a story that’d carry on for 50-odd years.

"It was a strange upbringing, as sometimes we stayed for months on end, waiting for the boat to bring supplies from the mainland."

The platform was at first lit by candles, and visitors were hoisted up to it with a winch.

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Since then Sealand has launched its own flag, anthem, currency, passports and football team.

Its national dish is lobster spaghetti, which Roy discovered while fighting in Italy during the Second World War.

Michael, who owns a seafood export business, rules over the manmade island with his wife Mei Shi and kids James, Charlotte and Liam.

He funds the running costs of the platform by selling royal titles like Lord and Baroness for £29.99 online.


One recent customer is Baron Dorian True of Sealand, a former British Airways mechanic from Swansea.

Dorian told Wales Online: "I wanted to use it with the business because it seems more of an attraction.

"I'm in Swansea Business Club and I'm down as Baron True.

"Sometimes I get the mickey taken out of me like at the doctor's.

He added: "They say, 'Baron True, your prescription's ready' and I get some funny looks.

"The title is great but I'm Dorian at the end of the day. I'm just a valleys boy."

In 1968 Michael was charged with multiple crimes after firing warning shots across the bow of a British government ship near the platform.

But a court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand – tacitly recognising it as an independent country.

A group of German and Dutch mercenaries invaded Sealand in 1978 – only for the Bates family to take them hostage.

The German ambassador arrived by helicopter to negotiate the prisoners' release, giving Sealand more credibility as a state.

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