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Dad makes daughter a princess, claims 'no man's land' in Africa

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Jeremiah Heaton traveled to northeastern Africa to claim land to fulfill his daughter's desire to be a princess. (Source: Jeremiah Heaton) Jeremiah Heaton traveled to northeastern Africa to claim land to fulfill his daughter's desire to be a princess. (Source: Jeremiah Heaton)
Princess Emily poses with the flag of the 'Kingdom of Northern Sudan.' (Source: Jeremiah Heaton) Princess Emily poses with the flag of the 'Kingdom of Northern Sudan.' (Source: Jeremiah Heaton)

ABINGDON, VA (RNN) - One Virginia father and former congressional candidate fulfilled a request for his daughter, trekking to Africa to make her a princess.

In a June 16 Facebook post, Jeremiah Heaton, 38, wrote how he wanted to make the dreams of 7-year-old daughter, Emily, of being a princess a reality after a father-daughter playtime last winter.

"Emily, like most little girls, has a dream to become a princess. While playing one day she stopped and posed a question, 'Daddy, will I ever be a real princess?' The only answer I could give my sweet little girl was 'Yes, of course you will be a princess one day!'" Heaton wrote.

It was Emily's "heartfelt desire" that Heaton wanted to fulfill.

"I am an inquisitive person, and I searched for free land that was not claimed by any man," Heaton said.

He discovered the term terra nullius, Latin for "no man's land," while researching possible areas, and found the eastern African region of Bir Tawil, a 796-square-mile region between Egypt and Sudan. Because of a nearly 100-year-old dispute, Bir Tawil was one of the three remaining non-claimed parcels of land in the world, according to The Global Post.

"Over the years a few arm-chair explorers have attempted to 'claim' Bir Tawil by simply writing a blog entry or creating a website. These half-hearted, illegitimate claims have not been recognized by any government," Heaton said.

Heaton had to secure permission from the Egyptian government to travel to Bir Tawil, and said they couldn't have been more hospitable.

"Amazingly, Bir Tawil is the very last piece of Earth unclaimed by any nation or man," Heaton wrote.

The area now known as Bir Tawil is now being called "The Kingdom of North Sudan" by the Heatons. In the Facebook post, Heaton asks friends to formally address his daughter as "Princess Emily." Naturally, Heaton is the king.

"Long live the Kingdom and the love it was founded upon," Heaton wrote.

Heaton said he wants to use the land to advance agricultural technology for the surrounding areas. Heaton wants to have an energy-efficient nation based on renewable sources.

"The plan is really in the early stages, but I have friends who are scientists who will help us finalize things," Heaton said. "I may be the leader, but I by no means have the knowledge alone. But, we are going to find ways to physically grow food and use their knowledge to grow crops."

Heaton says he hadn't considered the potential backlash of a white man purchasing land in Africa, and that it's not about that or just making his daughter a princess.

"I don't see color, and we as a world are beyond that," Heaton said. "I think people will see past the fact that I am a white man, and see that this was a act of love."

Heaton also dismissed the claim of colonialism, and calls the land claim "the lost and found of Earth." He also said he isn't spoiling his daughter.

"We are really good people," Heaton said. "I am not some super-rich guy that spends a bunch of money on Sweet 16 parties. I just wanted to do something very special for my daughter, and leave a legacy of love for my children."

Heaton, who had an unsuccessful run for Virginia's 9th District's Democratic nomination in 2012, currently works in mining, according to the Bristol Herald Courier. His sons, ages 12 and 10, helped design the flag with their sister.

He is set to make the phone calls to the two embassies Monday morning to begin setting up the details with the Egyptian and Sudanese ambassadors.

University of Richmond political science professor Sheila Carapico told the Bristol Herald Courier that "it's not plausible" for the land to be claimed without the "legal recognition of the neighboring countries, the United Nations, or other groups."

As for Emily, who is a bashful princess, she only had one thing to say about gaining her kingdom. 

"I think it's cool," Emily said.

Follow me on Twitter @TanitaG_RNN.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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