Paddy Roy Bates

From Academic Kids

Paddy Roy Bates, also known as H.R.H. Prince Roy, The Prince of Sealand (born c. 1922), is a former British pirate radio broadcaster and founder of a self-proclaimed Principality of Sealand.

Bates served in the British Army, rising to the rank of Major. He then became a successful fisherman before moving into pirate radio.

In 1965 he evicted Radio City staff who had occupied Knock John Tower, a World War II British defense platform in the Thames estuary. From there he ran Radio Essex from 1965 to 1966. The station changed its name in October, 1966 to Britain's Better Music Station (BBMS), shortly before going off the air on Christmas Day of 1966.

After being convicted of violating British broadcasting law, Bates moved his operation to nearby Roughs Tower. Roughs Tower had earlier been claimed by Jack Moore and his daughter for Ronan O'Rahilly of Radio Caroline. On learning that Bates had set up there, O'Rahilly sent men to land on the tower, but their boat was driven off with petrol bombs and (according to O'Rahilly's men) gunfire.

The radio station never began broadcasting from the new location, but Bates nonetheless decided to stay, and proclaimed Roughs Tower to be the Principality of Sealand in 1967.

In 1968, Bates's son Michael fired on a British navy ship. In a subsequent case brought before a local court in Chelmsford, Essex, it was ruled that the offense had occurred outside of the jurisdiction of that court. This small court no longer exists. Other courts in Essex do claim jurisdiction but no other case was brought on this matter, Bates cites this case as evidence of de facto sovereignty. However, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Harold Wilson took note and decided to leave him alone. Later the UK incorporated the area of Rough Sands into UK territorial waters. In 1990-1991 the UK submitted evidence in a USA Administrative Court Case which ruled that no such independent "Principality of Sealand" has ever existed. This case was never challenged by the Bates family.

In recent years, Bates came to an agreement with a start-up company called HavenCo to establish an offshore data haven. However Ryan Lackey, its founder later quit and claimed that Bates had lied to him by keeping the 1990-1991 court case from him and that as a result he had lost the money he had invested in the venture. He stated that his only legal recourse was sue Roy Bates in a British court of law, but because of his own involvement in the venture his chances of success were not good and as of this date no such case has been filed.

Bates and his wife Joan no longer live on Sealand, having left the day-to-day operation to their son Michael.

External sources

Preceded by:
Sovereign of Sealand Succeeded by:
Current incumbent


de:Paddy Roy Bates

The true story of Roy Bates, an ex-military officer turned pirate radio operator who moved his family to an abandoned British anti-aircraft platform and declared it his own sovereign nation is being made into a feature film through Warner Brothers and writer/producer Peter A. Dowling.


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