When Jeremiah Heaton’s daughter was six-years-old, she asked him if she could be a princess when she got older. He admits he didn’t want to “make any false promises,” but he still replied “yes.” Instead of doing what the rest of us do with small children and their absurd requests — nodding our heads and ignoring them until they are old enough to realize they can’t actually be a princess or Iron Man — he decided to search for a spot of unclaimed land that he could plant a flag on, ensuring that his precious daughter could one day have her own “kingdom” and be a princess.
No, I’m not kidding. This really happened. The Washington Post reported on some of the details last year:
Within months, Heaton was journeying through the desolate southern stretches of Egypt and into an unclaimed 800-square-mile patch of arid desert. 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 Heaton and his family call the “Kingdom of North Sudan.”
There, Heaton is the self-described king and Emily is his princess.
Disney apparently thinks the story of a man traveling to Africa to claim land for his daughter so she can be a princess is just the sweetest idea, ever — so they are adapting his story into a film that Morgan Spurlock is directing. Has everyone lost their damn minds? I know there was a time when white men just travelled willy-nilly all over the globe, pitching flags and claiming stuff that totally wasn’t theirs — but I kinda thought those days were over. No? Mkay.
Heaton needs legal recognition from neighboring countries and the United Nations to have actual political control of the land. The UN has not recognized his kingdom (probably because they are busy dealing with countries that actually exist), but they haven’t exactly kicked him out, either. Deadline reports, “Heaton is currently working to establish positive relationships with neighboring nations of Sudan and Egypt by converting his newfound sovereignty into an ecologically and agriculturally sustainable nation where his family can live together and reign as the royal family.”
Be right back — I have to make sure I’m actually conscious, because how can this be real?
The area is unclaimed because of a border dispute between Egypt and Sudan. Naturally, the dispute will just resolve itself when a dad from Virginia waltzes in and essentially says, “mine!” Even Heaton managed to realize this was may be too lofty a goal, so he decided to found the Kingdom of North Sudan Research Fund. In addition to the obvious castle and moat he will build so his daughter can feel more legit, his goal is to use the land for agricultural research in hopes to make his claim on the land more appealing to the neighboring countries and the UN.
A video for the fund claims that “day and night, scientists will work on new methods to produce crops, using minimal water and absolutely no pesticides or herbicides.” There are no actual ties to real research organizations on the site, so it’s not clear what “scientists” will be working on his plan. But he will grant you knighthood if you donate $300 to his IndieGoGo campaign. For $50,000 you can have your face on future currency of this make-believe nonsense-kingdom.
A story of a father who travels to the ends of the earth to spoil the shit out of his daughter and teach her to always expect her unrealistic dreams to be met is a great idea for a kids’ movie, Disney.