LONDON – Joan Bates, a woman who established a self-proclaimed independent state on a former military platform off the Suffolk and Essex coast in England, has died aged 86, reports the BBC.
Joan and her late husband Major Roy Bates moved to an anti-aircraft fortress just outside British territorial waters almost 50 years ago.
The fortress was one of several World War II installations that were designed to guard the port of Harwich in Essex.
Both Roy and Joan declared the 10,000 square feet platform as an independent state and gave themselves the titles “Prince” Roy and “Princess” Joan of Sealand.
Over the years, Sealand has encountered armed attacks by pirates and government bids to shut it down.
Michael, son of Roy and Joan, has controlled Sealand since the death of his father in 2012.
“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,” Michael said, according to the BBC.
Sealand has its own flag, prints its own stamps, has its own currency and issues passports.