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World's smallest country for sale

For sale: The world's smallest country with its own flag, stamps and currency. Read on to know who is selling it.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 14:35 IST

Apply to Prince Michael of Sealand if you want to run your own storm-tossed nation -- even if it is just a wartime fort perched on two concrete towers in the North Sea.

Built in World War Two as an anti-aircraft base against German bombers, the derelict platform was taken over 40 years ago by retired army major Paddy Roy Bates who went to live there with his family.

He declared the platform, perched seven miles off the east coast of England just outside Britain's territorial waters, to be the principality of Sealand.

The self-styled Prince Roy adopted a flag, chose a national anthem and minted silver and gold coins as its currency.

The family saw off an attempt by the Royal Navy to evict them and also an attempt in 1978 by a group of German and Dutch businessmen to seize Sealand by force.

"I was held prisoner out there for three or four days and then managed to get back to England," Roy's son Michael told BBC Radio on Monday.

"I slid down a rope out of a helicopter with my father and a couple of comrades and took the place back against armed opposition. It was quite a high point in my life," he said.

Prince Michael, whose 85-year-old father now lives in Spain, said his family had been approached by estate agents with clients "who wanted a bit more than a bit of real estate, they wanted autonomy."

Asked what were the delights of living on Sealand, the 54-year-old prince said "The neighbours are very quiet. There is a good sea view."

"There is no jurisdiction by any other country in the world," he said, suggesting it could be a base for online gambling or offshore banking.

Calling it a cross between a house and a ship, the prince acknowledged it was not the world's most picturesque country, boasting as it does two large concrete towers with eight rooms in each tower.

"It is fairly bleak," he conceded. ""But it is quite pleasant sitting inside in the warm and watching the horrendous weather roaring past the double-glazed windows."

So what did he expect to get for Sealand?

"We shall see," Prince Michael said. "I will listen to anybody who wants to talk."