Abingdon (United States) (AFP) - Fathers often see their daughters as royalty. But a few months ago, when Emily Heaton said she wanted to be a princess, her father Jeremiah quickly found her a kingdom.
Many little girls would have been satisfied with the wooden turrets and ramparts of the castle in the community playground of rural Abingdon, Virginia, where the Heatons live. But Jeremiah was thinking bigger.
Last month, he planted a flag in a tiny parcel of uninhabited land on the border between Egypt and Sudan on June 16th, Emily's seventh birthday. The Kingdom of North Sudan was born.
"With a child you don’t want to ever tell them they can’t be something they desire to be, and at age six, her frame of reference for the world was to be a princess," Heaton told AFP.
"So I told her that she could be."
Heaton started researching unassigned territory that he could claim as a kingdom. At first, the search was futile.
"Initially I looked at the Antarctic continent, which doesn’t have a population… but due to the Antarctic Treaty, there are no new claims that are allowed to be made," he explained.
So, his Internet research eventually pointed him in the direction of Bir Tawil, a few hundred square kilometers (miles) of uninhabited desert nestled between Egypt and Sudan, long neglected in stalled border negotiations.
It wasn’t long before Heaton was on a plane to Africa.
"I didn’t see the pyramids, I didn’t see Luxor, I did not see Alexandria. It was specifically to go to the border area and make the claim on Bir Tawil. I’m probably one of the few people who’ve been to Egypt and not seen the pyramids!" he said.