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Prince Roy of Sealand dies at 91

Oct. 12, 2012 at 12:59 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Roy Bates, who became Prince Roy of Sealand when he declared an abandoned British military platform an independent country, has died at 91.

The prince spent the last years of his life in Spain with his wife of half a century, The Daily Telegraph reported. Their son, Michael, has been serving as Sealand's prince regent, although he spends little time in his North Sea domain, preferring to hire a caretaker.

Bates had a life full of adventure, including fighting in the International Brigades in Spain in the 1930s and serving as a British army officer in World War II.

After the war, he was involved in a number of business enterprises, including importing meat and rubber, owning fishing boats and running a chain of butcher shops. In 1966, he tried to start a 24-hour pirate radio station on another military platform.

Bates created Sealand 7 miles off Felixstowe on the east coast of England after a 1967 law barred British citizens from working for pirate stations.

Sealand has had a peaceful history for the most part. Bates was charged with violating firearms laws by firing a warning shot at a government ship, but a judge ruled in 1968 that Seaman was outside British jurisdiction.

The West German embassy sent a diplomat a few years later to get one of its citizens released from Sealand. Bates, holding the man after a business dispute, granted him a royal pardon.

In later years, Bates sold Sealand passports -- he stopped because they were being used for fraud -- and offered noble titles for a few pounds.

"Listen, old boy, I like a bit of adventure. It's the old British tradition," Bates said in a 2000 interview. "Maybe Britain's changed, but there's a lot of us still about."

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