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For sale: world's smallest country

A former World War II fort in the North Sea with its own self-proclaimed royal family, is up for sale.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2007 12:33 IST

A former World War II fort in the North Sea, which was settled 40 years ago and declared a state with its own self-proclaimed royal family, is up for sale,

The Times

said on Monday.

The tiny Principality of Sealand, which began life as Roughs Tower in 1941, is a 550 square metre (658 square yard) steel platform perched on two concrete towers 11 kilometres (seven miles) off the coast of Harwich, eastern England.

It is accessible only by helicopter and boat but according to its owners, who want offers of eight digits or over, boasts uninterrupted sea views, guarantees complete privacy and is a tax haven.

"We have owned the island for 40 years now and my father is 85," Prince Michael of Sealand was quoted as saying. "Perhaps it is time for some rejuvenation.

"Astronomical figures have been mentioned but we will just see what comes forward."

Although its nation status is disputed, Sealand boasts a military past like any other country, defending its sovereignty from outside threats.

Former British army major Paddy Roy Bates began occupying the island with his family in 1967, declared it a state in international waters and gave himself the title "prince".

Britain's Royal Navy attempted to evict him the following year but were unsuccessful. As they entered territorial waters, Roy of Sealand fired warning shots from the former fort.

A judge then ruled in his favour that Sealand was outside British government control as it was beyond the three-mile limit of the country's waters.