Former WWII fortress to cost a cool 750 million euros as buyers line up
FOR sale: smallest country in the world, 11 kilometres off the English coast, former World War II fortress. Caw! Buyers must like seagulls, isolation, wind and… oh yes… be rich. Price: 750,000,000 euros ONO. Interested parties contact local estate agent.
Your eyes do not deceive you. After 40 years, the owners of the Principality of Sealand have put the former Maunsell Sea Fort on the market. And interested parties are queuing to buy the 550-square-metre steel platform located in international waters in the North Sea.
Gabriel Medina of Inmonaranja, the Motril based estate agency that is selling the island, claims more than 20 potential “buyers,” all interested in Sealand’s tax haven status, have contacted him.
“Mainly wealthy North American companies have been in touch. There have been a few Europeans contacting me, also. I have even had a call from the representatives of an un-named Libyan all wanting the ownership of the Principality transferred into their name,” he told the Olive Press.
For their money, the new rulers will take the title of Prince or Princess, be able to use the Principality’s passport, make business deals with Sealand’s own dollar currency (roughly equivalent to its US counterpart) and stand while singing the national anthem.
Accessed by helicopter or boat, Sealand is hardly what you would call a dream island however. The steel platform stands upon two concrete pillars in the harsh North Sea and the accommodation – a low, long building – is hardly fit for a plebeian never mind a prince.
“Visually, Sealand is a beast. However, it has more than 40 years of rich history behind it,” Gabriel says.
Before its present owners named it Sealand, the principality was mere HM Fort Roughs. Built in 1941, it was home to more than 200 Royal Navy personnel during World War II.
Between 1956 – when the last Navy occupants were airlifted off – and 1967, the fort remained empty save for pirate radio broadcasters.
Then a former British Army Major by the name of Paddy Roy Bates assumed control of HM Fort Roughs and settled there with his family. In doing so, he declared the sea fort its own state and himself as His Royal Highness Prince Roy.
Since then, Roy of Sealand has seen off the Royal Navy and successfully proved the Principality’s independence from Great Britain in court.
Sealand also witnessed a failed African coup in 1978 when German and Dutch businessmen attempted to wrestle control of Sealand while Prince Roy was away. His son, Prince Regent Michael, was kidnapped to eventually turn up in the Netherlands and a group of hired mercenaries was called in to rid the principality of the invaders.
Since 1999, Prince Regent Michael has been lord and master of Sealand. His parents have retired and “are enjoying the Spanish sun somewhere,” according to Gabriel.
When asked the reason why he has decided to sell the ownership of the fort, Prince Regent Michael said: “Sealand has been in the family for 40 years now and my father is 85. Perhaps it is time for some rejuvenation. Astronomical figures have been mentioned but we will see what comes forward.”