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Virginia man claims kingdom so his daughter can be a princess

ABINGDON, Va. - A Virginia man says he has claimed a kingdom in Africa so his daughter can be a princess.

Jeremiah Heaton told the Bristol Herald Courier that he recently trekked to a small, mountainous region between Egypt and Sudan called Bir Tawil. No country claims the land.

Heaton said he planted a flag designed by his children there so that he could become a king - and more importantly, so his 7-year-old daughter Emily could be a princess.

"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 told the newspaper. "And I said she would."

Jeremiah Heaton and his 7-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. DAVID CRIGGER, AP

He and his wife, Kelly, got their daughter a princess crown and have asked family members to address the girl as Princess Emily.

"It's cool," said Emily, who sleeps in a custom-made castle bed, according to the Herald Courier.

The family call the the area the Kingdom of North Sudan.

Shelia Carapico, a professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond, said Heaton would not have political control over the land without legal recognition from neighboring countries, the United Nations or other groups.

Heaton said he hopes to get Sudan and Egypt to recognize the kingdom.

There's no word on whether Emily's brothers, Jacob and Caleb, expect to be called princes, but Heaton said the kids were "really getting into the idea" and want to turn the area into an agricultural hub.

But he said his main purpose was to fulfill his promise to his daughter.

"I think there's a lot of love in the world," Heaton told the Herlad Courier. "I want my children to know I will do absolutely anything for them."