RIP Paddy Roy Bates, the Prince of Sealand

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A 1999 file photo of the self-proclaimed sovereign principality of Sealand, built aboard a World War II artillery platform about seven miles off the coast of Essex, England.

No man is an island, with one exception: Paddy Roy Bates, the prince of Sealand. And on Oct. 1o, he passed away.

His kingdom was, admittedly, small: a derelict WWII artillery platform, perched on two brick pillars seven miles off the west coast of England. But Bates, who passed away at age 91 of Alzheimer’s, made the most of it, founding the independent Principality of Sealand in 1967 and crowning himself Prince (his wife, Joan, became a princess). He came up with a constitution for Sealand, designed a flag (red, white and black), created passports, stamps, coins, a national anthem and even a motto, E Mare Libertas: “From the sea, freedom.”

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Paddy’s maritime idyll couldn’t last forever, however. It wasn’t the British authorities who ended things (in 1968, according to the Sealand site, a British court held that the platform was in international waters and thus was not under the jurisdiction of the U.K.) It was simply old age: Bates decided to spend his later years on shore, appointing his son heir to Sealand, which now derives an income selling aristocratic titles and merchandise. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter Penny.

For more on Paddy’s path to princehood, head over to the Guardian or visit Sealand’s official website, which recounts the life of the old salt and gives more details of the platform where he lived.

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