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Prince Roy of Sealand, born Roy Bates, has died aged 91.
THE SELF-PROCLAIMED Prince of Sealand has died aged 91.
Prince Roy of Sealand, born Roy Bates, took over the wartime fort Sealand seven miles off Harwich in 1967.
Roy declared himself monarch of the disused anti-aircraft platform after he identified it as being in international waters and not legally owned by anybody.
The Royal Navy tried to have him removed, but a court ruled Sealand was not part of England or any other nation and he was allowed to remain.
This unusual choice of home was just another adventure for Roy who led a colourful life.
Son Michael Bates, 60, a cockle fisherman in Leigh said he travelled a lot as a youngster.
He said: “He always wanted to push the boundaries, sometimes possibly to far. As I boy I used to go out on the boats with him and he would tell me wartime stories.
“The phrase larger than life does not even begin to describe him. He will be greatly missed.”
Roy was born in 1921 to Harry and Lilyan Bates he was the only surviving child of five siblings. He joined the international brigade at 15 and went to the Spanish civil war.
He returned to England and took up an apprenticeship at Smithfield market in London then at the start of the Second World War he joined the army and became an Infantry Major in the First Battalion Royal Fusiliers City of London Regiment.
During the war, he served in several countries including Africa, Italy, Iraq and Syria. At one point he was a prisoner of war on a plane that crashed on the island of Rhodes. While trying to escape, he was captured stealing a fishing boat but rescued from execution by firing squad by a passing German officer.
In the mid-Sixties, he started pirate radio station Radio Essex on the Knock John fort.
He died on October 9 after suffering from Alzheimers.
Grandson James Bates, 26, said: “He was adventurous. He was always full of stories, every time you spoke to him he would tell you a different story.”
Another of his grandchildren, Liam Bates, 23, added: “He was a very lively character, very outlandish, always full of amazing adventure stories.”
He is survived by wife Joan, 83, son Michael, and daughter Penny, 64, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
His funeral will be held on Wednesday, October 17 at 10.20am at Southend Crematorium.
Sealand has its own website www.sealandgov.org.
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