Suffolk

'Princess' Joan of Sealand independent state dies at 86

Princess Sealand Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Joan, pictured with her husband Roy Bates, moved to the abandoned anti-aircraft platform just outside British territorial waters in 1967

A woman who helped establish a self-proclaimed independent state on a former military platform off the Suffolk and Essex coast has died aged 86.

Joan Bates and her late husband Major Roy Bates moved to an anti-aircraft fortress just outside British territorial waters almost 50 years ago.

They declared it an independent state and gave themselves the titles "Prince" Roy and "Princess" Joan of Sealand.

She is survived by their son, Michael.

Known as the "Prince" of Sealand, he has controlled Sealand, seven miles off the coast, since the death of his father in 2012.

Over the years, Sealand, a 10,000 sq ft platform, has encountered armed attacks by pirates and government bids to shut it down.

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Image caption Roy Bates declared himself monarch of Sealand in 1967
Image caption Sealand is seven miles off the coast
Image caption Roy and Joan Bates featured on Sealand's stamps

"Prince" Michael of Sealand said: "My parents will always be remembered for shaking up the establishment with pirate radio, declaring Sealand's independence and confronting the Royal Navy and other foreign governments."

In 1978, three foreign men landed at Sealand by helicopter and overpowered Michael to claim the 'principality' as their own.

Mr Bates soon arrived, took two of the men hostage and regained control of the fort.

A life at sea

  • Sealand has its own flag, has printed its own stamps, has its own currency and issues passports
  • Dramas over the years have included rival attempts to storm the old tower and a major fire
  • In the 1960s, Roy and Joan Bates launched their own pirate radio station
  • In 2012, singer Ed Sheeran became a "baron" of Sealand, a title also given to Terry Wogan and Ben Fogle

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