Meet the desert 'princess'

 Meet the desert 'princess'
This father went to Egypt and staked a claimed in a desert to make himself king and his daughter, princess Left: Daughter Emily Heaton Right: Jeremiah Heaton

Dad, I want to be a princess.

And this US daddy fulfilled her wish - by travelling to Egypt, staking a claim on a patch of desert there and then proclaiming his daughter 'princess' of that land.

Mr Jeremiah Heaton was playing with his daughter in their Virginia home last winter when she asked whether she could be a real princess.

Mr Heaton, a father of three who works in the mining industry, didn't want to make any false promises to Emily - then six - who was "big on being a princess". But he still said yes, reported the Washington Post.

"As a parent, you sometimes go down paths you never thought you would," Mr Heaton said.

Within months, Mr Heaton was journeying through the desolate southern stretches of Egypt and into an unclaimed 2,070-sq-km desert area. It is almost three times the size of Singapore.

There, on June 16 - Emily's seventh birthday -he planted a blue flag with four stars and a crown on a rocky hill.

The area, a sandy expanse sitting along the Sudanese border, morphed from what locals call Bir Tawil into what Mr Heaton and his family call the "Kingdom of North Sudan".

There, Mr Heaton is the self-proclaimed king and Emily is his princess.

"I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true," Mr Heaton said.

Ms Sheila Carapico, professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond, told the Bristol Herald Courier last week that Mr Heaton would need legal recognition from neighbouring countries, the United Nations or other groups to have actual political control of the land.

LEGITIMATE CLAIM?

Mr Heaton says his claim over Bir Tawil is legitimate.

He argues that planting the flag - which his children designed - is exactly how several other countries, including what became the US, were historically claimed.

After he promised his daughter that she could be a princess, Mr Heaton began searching online for unclaimed land.

He then stumbled across information on Bir Tawil. He said a border dispute between Sudan and Egypt left the land as unclaimed territory.

Bir Tawil is about halfway between where the Nile River crosses into Sudan and Egypt's coast along the Red Sea.

I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true


This article was first published on July 16, 2014.
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