Man Claims African Patch of Land as His Kingdom So His Little Girl Can Be a Real Princess

Last winter, when Jeremiah Heaton’s daughter Emily asked him if she could be a real princess, the doting father didn’t have the heart to refuse. Even though he didn’t want to raise her hopes or make any false promises, he found himself agreeing to the outlandish request of a six-year-old.

“Over the winter, Emily and I were playing, and she has a fixation on princesses,” he said. “She asked me, in all seriousness, if she’d be a real princess someday. And I said she would.”

So Jeremiah spent hours scouring the internet for a suitable piece of unclaimed territory. He focused his search on the Latin term ‘terra nullius’, which means ‘land belonging to no one’. After several months of searching, he has now managed to locate an 800-square mile desert in Africa, thousands of miles away from his home in Abingdon, Virginia.


Photo: Jeremiah Heaton/Facebook

The desert in question is unoccupied territory, claimed by both Egypt and Sudan, but belonging to neither, due to a land dispute dating back over 100 years. Located along the Sudanese border, about halfway between where the Nile crosses into Sudan and Egypt’s coast along the Red Sea, the strip of land is locally known as ‘Bir Tawil’. It is one of the last pieces of unclaimed land on Earth.

There have been several online claimants to the property, and Jeremiah knew he had to do something special to make sure his claim stood out from the rest. So he actually gained permission from Egyptian authorities and travelled all the way to Africa. And on June 16 – Emily’s seventh birthday – he planted a blue flag with four stars (designed by his children) on a rocky hill, after a 14-hour caravan journey through the desert.


Photo: Jeremiah Heaton/Facebook

Jeremiah even renamed Bir Tawil; he’s now calling it the Kingdom of North Sudan, where he is the undisputed King and his daughter, the princess. “It’s beautiful here,” he said. “It’s an arid desert in Northeastern Africa. Bedouins roam the area; the population is actually zero.”

“As a parent, you sometimes go down paths you never thought you would,” Jeremiah explained. “I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes come true.” So he made the journey, even though he was ‘fearful of going into a toxic environment’.

And when he got back home, Jeremiah and his wife got Emily a crown – she is now addressed as Princess Emily by family members. “It’s cool,” said the little girl, who sleeps in a custom made castle bed. As princess, she wants to make sure that all people in the region have enough food. “That’s definitely a concern in that part of the world,” agreed Jeremiah. “We discussed what we could do as a nation to help.”


Jeremiah now plans to make his ‘conquest’ official by reaching out to the African Union for assistance. He wants to formally establish the Kingdom of North Sudan , and he’s quite confident that they will welcome him. “I do intend to pursue formal recognition with African nations,” he said. His first step is to get Sudan and Egypt to recognize the kingdom.

Surprisingly, Jeremiah is quite sure that his claim over Bir Tawil is legitimate. He explained that planting a flag is exactly how other countries, including the United States, were historically claimed. The only difference here is that his is conquest is an act of love, not war. “I founded the nation in love for my daughter,” he declared.


Photo: Jeremiah Heaton/Facebook

According to Sheila Carapico, professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond, Jeremiah does need to get legal recognition from neighboring countries, the United Nations, or other groups, to have actual political control over the land. She explained that it isn’t plausible for someone to plant a flag and say that they have political control over the land, without recognition. Unfortunately, representatives from the Egyptian and Sudanese embassies in Washington have not yet responded to Jeremiah’s bizarre claim.

But the father-of-three remains quite optimistic about the future of his new nation. “I feel confident of the claim we’ve made,” he said. “That’s the exact same process that has been done for thousands of years. The exception is this nation was claimed for love.” If everything goes according to plan, King Jeremiah’s first priority is to establish positive relationships with Sudan and Egypt by way of converting his ‘kingdom’ into an agricultural production center – just as Emily wants.

via Washington Post, Times Dispatch

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