Man Forms Country So Daughter Can Be A Princess

by Seth Millstein

When a kid tells their parents that they want to be a princess, most parents are content to buy them a toy crown, or perhaps a princess costume, and call it a day. Not so for Jeremiah Heaton of Virginia; he went the extra mile. When his daughter begged to become a “real princess,” Heaton got on a plane and declared a new nation in an unclaimed African territory. In the newly-formed “Kingdom of North Sudan,” as he calls it, Heaton is king, making his seven-year old daughter Emily the princess.

While Heaton most definitely gets points for creativity here, micronations are nothing new. Individuals have long been declaring their own sovereign nations in unclaimed and disputed territory, and while they’re rarely recognized by the federal government, some have nonetheless existed for decades.

Perhaps the most infamous is the Principality of Sealand, which was “formed” at an abandoned British Naval base off the coast of England in 1967 by, well, some guy who went there and declared it his own nation. It’s not recognized formally by any other country, but does have a colorful history: Ten years after its founding, there was an attempt at revolution — that is, if you consider one person storming a building with a couple of hired thugs a “revolution.” The would-be revolutionary, a German man, was ultimately taken captive by the Sealand regime, prompting Germany to send a diplomat to negotiate his release; Sealand, which raises money by selling citizenship and Lordships, now claims that Germany’s actions constitute de facto recognition of the state. It's still around today.

Another micronation worth mentioning is the now-defunct Other Worlds Kingdom, which described itself as “a private state, founded upon the principle of slave-holding Matriarchal monarchy.” In practice, it was a BDSM community formed on a large plot of land in the Czech Republic in 1996. Every “Dominant Woman” was elligble for citizenship in the OWK — provided they possessed, among other things, “at least one fulltime slave of male sex.” Sadly, the property was sold in 2008, and the OWK ceased to be.

What makes Heaton’s venture somewhat unique is that the particular patch of land he’s colonized — Bir Tawil, located between South Sudan and Egypt — is one of the exceedingly few pieces of land on earth that's still unclaimed by any nation. This is basically just an historical accident: There’s another piece of disputed territory on the other side of the border that each nation wants more, so both Sound Sudan and Egypt want the other to take Bir Tawil, a desolate patch of desert with no permanent population, as a sort of consolation prize.

But if any more devoted parents want to jet-set around the world and declare nation to fulfill their kid’s fantasies, they’ll have a tough time. There isn’t much unclaimed land left on our planet; aside from Bir Tawil, the only other terra nullius remaining is the Marie Byrd Land, a 620,000 square mile frozen tundra in Antarctica that no nation has claimed because, really, why would you want it?