Criminal

Black and white illustration of an old World War Two sea fort, also known as the “Principality of Sealand.” The fort is a small building on a platform above two very wide columns standing in the ocean. A person is sitting on a swing hanging from the fort’s platform, holding a flag.

Sealand

Episode #171

2021-08-27 12:26:02

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Today’s episode begins with rock & roll and ends with royalty. When bands like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles were becoming popular, they weren’t played much on the radio in England. The BBC controlled the airwaves at the time, and some listeners described its music offerings as “square.” So aspiring DJs packed up their record collections, got in boats, and sailed past the territorial limits of the UK, where they set up pirate radio stations in the sea—sometimes on abandoned WWII sea forts. One fort was taken over by a man named Roy Bates. When his pirate radio station didn’t work out, he refused to give up the fort. He raised a flag on it and announced that he and his family would be forming their own nation. A spokesperson from Britain’s Ministry of Defence said: “This is ludicrous.”

Michael Bates’ book is Principality of Sealand: Holding the Fort, and Dylan Taylor-Lehman’s book is Sealand: The True Story of the World’s Most Stubborn Micronation and Its Eccentric Royal Family.

For a transcript of this episode, send an email to transcripts@thisiscriminal.com with the episode name and number.