IT’S fair to say that it’s been an incredible year for Suffolk’s singing superstar Ed Sheeran.

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The 21-year-old from Framlingham has shifted 2.5m albums worldwide, sold out 280 shows and has a string of awards to his name.

But the former Thomas Mills High School student now has one more reason to smile - he has been made a baron.

The title has been bestowed upon him by the principality of Sealand - a former military fort seven-and-a-half miles off Felixstowe in the North Sea.

Posting a message on social networking website Twitter Ed said: “A friend of a friend owns an oil rig that got made into a country legally, and called Sealand, which made him the king of Sealand.

“Which means he can give out titles to people. So he’s given me the title of Baron von Edward Sheeran. I am a Baron. Awesome.”

Paying tribute to all those who have supported him over the last 12 months he posted: “Left home on January the 8th, and now I’m going back for Christmas. What a year. Thank you to my team and fans for being incredible.”

Sealand was founded as a sovereign principality by Roy Bates, also known as Prince Roy of Sealand, who passed away earlier this year.

The fort was initially built by Britain during the Second World War to guard approaches to the Thames Estuary.

Mr Bates established the tiny country after getting involved in the pirate radio movement of the 1960s and setting up Radio Essex on the Knock John forts in the Thames Estuary.

After being prosecuted under the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, Mr Bates moved his family to the Roughs Tower island fort, according to the Sealand website.

On his wife Joan’s birthday, September 2, 1967, Mr Bates declared the fort independent from the UK and bestowed her the title of “princess”.

Since declaring independence, Sealand has issued its own stamps, passports and money. Its official language is English and the Sealand Dollar has a fixed exchange rate of one US dollar, according to the country’s website.

The country has its own red, white and black flag, and a national motto of E Mare Libertas, or “From the Sea, Freedom”.

Its independence was upheld in 1968 when a judge held that Roughs Tower stood in international waters and did not fall under the legal jurisdiction of the UK.

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