Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Principality of Sealand

Visit Sealand! A small independent micro-state of the coast of England with its own citizenship, passports, money, postage, constitution, and royal family. Yes it has all the trapping of a small European principality, including the seal above with the motto "E Mare Libertas," "From the Seas Freedom!" Oh wait did I mention it looks like this:

Yes that's right, Sealand is a military platform during World War II built by the British to protect the port of Harwhich. They later abandoned it and it when through a few different rulers until the Bates family arrived and established themselves with Roy Bates established himself as the first Prince of Sealand.

"For its short time in existence it has a fascinating history which you can learn more about here if you are interested. Anyway, my favorite bit of the history is this part here:

In August of 1978, about ten years after independence was declared, Roy was approached by a consortium of German and Dutch diamond merchants who wanted him to fly to Austria to entertain a business proposition. Upon their arrival, he and his wife Joan were met by five men who arranged for a meeting later that day, but the meeting time came and went without any word from the men. Concerned, Roy and his wife tried to make contact with their son Michael at Sealand, but since there was no phone or radio on the artificial island, they had to call local fishermen and the coast guard. "I saw a big helicopter hovering over Sealand," one of them reported. Things were beginning to look very suspicious.

Their worries were confirmed when they finally heard from Michael, many days later. A helicopter had arrived at Sealand, claiming to have a Telex from Roy. But upon landing, they took the platform by force with the assistance of the "Prime Minister" Roy had appointed, a man named Alexander G. Achenbach. The invaders locked Michael in a cell for three days without food or water, then put him aboard a Dutch vessel which dropped him off in Holland with no money and no passport.

The Bates family enlisted armed assistance, including a helicopter pilot who had done some work on James Bond movies, and headed back to Sealand to storm the fortress and take back their country. When they arrived, Michael slid down the rope onto the deck armed with a shotgun, and fired a shot. The intruders quickly surrendered, and were held as prisoners of war until their home countries petitioned for their release."

So all of this was pretty interesting for me, espceially since Sealand was put up for sale, but then I read the other day that a Kazakh had bought it! That's right Daniyar Ashimbaev is the newest proud owner and Prince of Sealand. In an interview he has said that he intends to be a reformer and replace the SeaLand Dollar to Sealand Tenge (the Tenge is Kazakhstan's currency). I want Sealand Tenge! I am really just ecstatic that there is now a second Kazakh state. Even my host brother in Kazakhstan was blogging about it. I still think it is the beginning of a Kazakhstani invasion of the UK for Borat though.

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