Heaton and his seven year-old daughter, Princess Emily, show the
flag,July 2, 2014, in Abingdon, Va, that their family designed as they
try to claim a piece of land in the Eastern African region of Bir Tawil.
(Bristol Herald Courier, David Crigger/Associated Press)
By Associated Press July 11 at 2:34 PM
ABINGDON, Va. — An Abingdon man claimed a kingdom so his daughter could be a princess.
Heaton, who has three children, recently trekked across the Egyptian
desert to a small, mountainous region between Egypt and Sudan called Bir
The area, about 800 square miles, is claimed by neither
Sudan nor Egypt, the result of land disputes dating back more than 100
years. Since then, there have been several online claimants to the
property, but Heaton believes his physical journey to the site, where he
planted a flag designed by his children, means he rightfully can claim
And call his 7-year-old daughter Princess Emily, the fulfillment of a promise he made 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 said. “And I said she would.”
He said he started researching what it would take for him to become a king, so Emily could be a princess.
As it turns out, Bir Tawil is among the last pieces of unclaimed land on earth.
who works in the mining industry and unsuccessfully ran for Congress in
2012, got permission from the Egyptian government to travel through the
country to the Bir Tawil region.
“It’s beautiful there,” Heaton
said. “It’s an arid desert in Northeastern Africa. Bedouins roam the
area; the population is actually zero.”
In June, he took the
14-hour caravan journey through the desert, in time to plant the flag of
the Heaton kingdom — blue with the seal and stars representing members
of the family — in Bir Tawil soil.
Heaton got home, he and his wife, Kelly, got their daughter a princess
crown, and asked family members to address her as Princess Emily.
“It’s cool,” said Emily, who sleeps in a custom-made castle bed fit for royalty.
She added that as princess she wants to make sure children in the region have 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.”
Heaton named the land the Kingdom of North Sudan, after consulting with his children.
“I do intend to pursue formal recognition with African nations,” Heaton
said, adding that getting Sudan and Egypt to recognize the kingdom
would be the first step.
That’s basically what will have to
happen for Heaton to have any legal claim to sovereignty, said Shelia
Carapico, professor of political science and international studies at
the University of Richmond.
She said it’s not plausible for
someone to plant a flag and say they have political control over the
land without legal recognition from neighboring countries, the United
Nations or other groups. In addition, she said, it’s not known whether
people have ownership of the land, regardless of whether the property is
part of a political nation.
“I feel confident in the claim
we’ve made,” Heaton said. “That’s the exact same process that has been
done for thousands of years. The exception is this nation was claimed
Heaton said his children, Emily, Justin and Caleb, will be the drivers for what happens with the new nation.
“If we can turn North Sudan into an agricultural hub for the area ... a
lot of technology has gone into agriculture and water,” he said. “These
are the things (the kids) are concerned with.”
Heaton has ordered letterhead with the country’s seal and one of his sons created a serving tray at camp with the flag on it.
“They are really getting into the idea,” Heaton said of his children.
“I think the idea of a nation with a clear purpose of helping other
people ... I think that’ll be well-received and we’ll get recognition
from other nations to partner with.”
But the main intent, he said, was to show his daughter that he would follow through on the promise he made.
“I think there’s a lot of love in the world,” Heaton said. “I want my children to know I will do absolutely anything for them.”http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-girl-7-pronounced-a-princess-by-father/2014/07/11/a5c31692-091d-11e4-ba5b-b9d8a4daba13_story.html