THE Princess of Sealand has died.

Joan Bates was given the title when her late husband Roy Bates declared the principality of Sealand, a platform the size of two tennis courts six miles off Harwich in the North Sea, in her honour in the late Sixties.

Mrs Bates died at a nursing home in Leigh following a long illness, aged 86, last Thursday.

She leaves behind her daughter Penny, 66, and son Michael, 63.

Mrs Bates’s grandson James Bates, 29, paid tribute to her, recalling listening to amazing tales as he grew up.

He said: “Grandma was lovely and full of life. She was always immaculately turned out and very glamorous.

“She modelled for all sorts of companies.”

Sealand was a Royal Navy fort, built in 1942 to protect the port of Harwich from the Germans.

During the Sixties, Mr Bates, who died in 2012, set up Radio Essex, a pirate radio station in the Knock John forts in the Thames Estuary.

After being prosecuted under the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, he moved his family to the the fort at Sealand.

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.

Last year Michael Bates revealed his book Holding the Fort was being made into a Hollywood film.