In 1943 Roughs Tower was an island fortress constructed by the United Kingdom to defend the shipping lanes in the area. It was one of several fortresses the United Kingdom constructed, but Roughs was built illegally. International law states that no structure built by any nation can reach further than 3 nautical miles off its coast. Roughs was more than double this distance at 7 nautical miles off the coast of Suffolk.
During the war it was home to up to 300 Royal Navy personnel. It was retired from used in 1956, after which it was occupied by several pirates and squatters for the next decade. In 1967 Paddy Roy Bates, a British subject at the time, went to the fort with the purpose of broadcasting a pirate radio station (whatever that is). Instead he staked his claim on the property and declared the independence of Sealand.
In 1968 Michael Bates, Roy’s son, fired warning shots at workmen around the fort in an attempt to scare them off. He was summoned to court in England, but was acquitted as the court ruled that the platform was outside British territory limits. It was this ruling that affirmed Sealand’s independence from any regulation.
With this affirmation Roy began arranging an entire government for his tiny plot in the middle of the ocean. In 1975 he enacted a constitution as well as a national anthem, national flag, currency, and passport stamp. Of course Britain didn’t want what many referred to as “a possible Cuba” off their coast so they destroyed the other forts, none of which were occupied at the time.
Sealand was never recognized as an established sovereign state by any other nation other than England. Since it is an “artificial island” it does not occupy the official “island” status as it is known, and therefore cannot be considered a plot of land, much less a nation.
In 2012, Roy Bates died leaving his son Michael as his successor. He now rules over Sealand with an iron fist; or so one would assume. It’s not known how many tourists Sealand receives each year-probably none- but for the right price you can receive the title of Lord, Baron, Count, or even offered knighthood.