A Virginia man traveled to Africa to claim a desert region called Bir Tawil so his 7-year-old daughter could be a princess.
Jeremiah Heaton recently traveled across Africa and planted a flag in the 800 square mile region between Egypt and Sudan, which has been the subject of a century-long land dispute.
Some people online lay claim to the area, but neither Egypt nor Sudan include it in their territory. Bir Tawil is considered one of the last pieces of unclaimed earth on the planet.
The father-of-three says the fact that he placed a flag, created by his kids, at the site makes it more his than anyone’s. Doing so fulfilled a promise he man to his daughter Emily months earlier.
“Over the winter, Emily and I were playing, and she has a fixation on princesses. She asked me, in all seriousness, if she’d be a real princess someday,” Heaton told the News Advance. “And I said she would.”
Heaton had to get permission from the Egyptian government to travel to Bir Tawil in June.
“It’s beautiful there,” Heaton said. “It’s an arid desert in Northeastern Africa. Bedouins roam the area; the population is actually zero.”
When Heaton returned home to Abingdon, Va., he got a crown for his daughter and he and his wife asked family members to address her as Princess Emily.
“I do intend to pursue formal recognition with African nations,” Heaton said.
He and his family formally named the area the Kingdom of North Sudan.
Emily says she wants to make sure children in her land have enough food.
“That’s definitely a concern in that part of the world,” Heaton said. “We discussed what we could do as a nation to help.”
“If we can turn North Sudan into an agricultural hub for the area ... a lot of technology has gone into agriculture and water,” he added. “These are the things [the kids] are concerned with.”
His main intention, Heaton said, was to keep his promises.
“I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true,” Heaton told the Washington Post.
Image Credit: Walter Callens