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Read more about the History of Sealand in ‘Prince’ Michael Bates’s book Holding the Fort

Principality of Sealand


In August 2000, Michael Bates - Prince Michael of Sealand- bought a dormant British company which was renamed HavenCo Limited. It was registered at  Companies House, in London with the directors listed as Michael Roy Bates (Chief Operating Officer), and Ryan Donald Lackey, a US citizen. Other founders included Sean Hastings, Jo Hastings, Avi Freedman, and Sameer Parekh was an advisor to the company.

HavenCo Limited was a data haven, (data hosting services company), which claimed to have established a secure facility on Sealand.

The company announced that it had become operational in December 2000 and that its Acceptable Use Policy prohibited child pornography, spamming, and malicious hacking - but that all other content was acceptable. It claimed that it had no restrictions on copyright or intellectual property for data hosted on its servers, arguing that as Sealand was not a member of the World Trade Organisation or World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), international intellectual property law did not apply. Later policies specified, "No pornography that would be considered illegal within the EU," and "No infringement of copyright."

Other services available from HavenCo at the time included IT consulting, systems administration, offshore software development, and electronic mail services.

Ryan Lackey left HavenCo in 2002, citing disagreements with the Bates family over management of the company. The HavenCo website went offline in 2008.


Over the years Sealand has been rumoured to be planning the launch of radio and television services - plans for three stations in the mid-1970s, an Arabic station in 1980, satellite radio relays in 1983, radio licences in 1986 and Sealand TV in 1987, but all came to nothing.  A group of amateur radio operators from West Germany did, however, transmit on shortwave and FM from Sealand in September 1983 and were given special Sealand call-signs for the month long duration of their broadcasts.

In July 1986 the Principality of Sealand advertised three radio licences. The licences were for a Top 40 station, an oldies station and a country music station. Licensees were to be provided with studio facilities on the Fort, with each individual station installing its own broadcasting equipment. The licence applications were handled by Hal Shaper, a Florida based music publisher and within a few weeks forty five applications were reported to have been received. However, despite the promising prospect of Sealand being used as a broadcasting base nothing ever came of the project.


On the afternoon of 23rd June 2006 the top platform of  Sealand (Roughs Tower) caught fire due to an electrical fault. An RAF rescue helicopter from Wattisham airlifted one injured person from the Fort to Ipswich Hospital, where he was treated for the effects of smoke inhalation . Meanwhile while the Harwich Lifeboat stood by until a local fire tug, Brightwell, together with 15 Suffolk based firefighters from the National Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) extinguished the fire.

The Fort’s generator was destroyed and three of the rooms - the generator room, the radio shed and the living room, were also completely destroyed. In addition there was considerable water damage to other areas caused by the firefighting operation. All damage was repaired by November 2006.


In January 2007, Swedish based web site The Pirate Bay (an online index of digital content of entertainment media and software) attempted to purchase Sealand after copyright measures in Sweden forced them to look for a base of operations elsewhere.  However, the Sealand government did not want to be involved with The Pirate Bay, as it was their opinion that file sharing represented "theft of proprietary rights".

Between 2007 and 2010, Sealand was offered for sale through the Spanish estate company InmoNaranja, at an asking price of €750 million (£600 million, US$906 million).


Sealand’s founder ‘Prince’ Roy Bates died at the age of 91 on 9th October 2012; he had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years. He was succeeded by his son Michael

His wife and co-founder ‘Princess’ Joan Bates died at the age of 86 on 10 March 2016.


While it has been described as the world's smallest country, Sealand is not officially recognised by any established sovereign state in spite of the Sealand government's claim that it has been de facto recognised by the United Kingdom and Germany.

The introduction of the British Territorial Sea Act 1987 effectively brought Roughs Tower inside British territorial limits and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, (in force since 1994), states "Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf".


Sealand has issued its own  postage stamps since 1969  and coins since 1972. The coins and stamps are denominated in 'Sealand dollars', which are deemed to be at parity with the US dollar.


Sealand first issued postage stamps in 1969 with further issues in 1970, 1975 and 1977. No further stamps were produced until 2010. However, only the Belgian Post Ossice has been reported to have delivered mail with Sealand stamps and as Sealand is not a member of the Universal Postal Union, its inward address is a PO Box number in Britain.  


Sealand began commissioning coins in 1972. The first to be minted was a SX$10 coin with a mintage of 2000. More coins were minted in 1975, 1977, 1994, 2012 and 2017.

In 1991 the "Sealand government in exile"  minted antiqued silver SX$100 coins.

Sea Structures


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Sealand on fire, June 2006

‘Prince’ Roy and ‘Princess’ Joan Bates, 1967

‘The first Sealand stamps issued in 1969

Two Sealand coins issued in 1972 and 1977

Back to Roughs Tower

Roughs Tower/Sealand

The Standard (London) 5th August 1986           click to enlarge