Sarah Culberson lived 28 years as a normal woman, until one day she received a call from her uncle, telling her that she’s the heir to the throne of an African country. Her story is almost the same as Anne Hathaway in Disney’s “The Princess Diaries”.
One woman experienced the surprise of her life when she found out something that only appeared in the movies. She discovered that she had African lineage and that she belonged to none other than the royalty of Sierra Leone, making her the Crown Princess to the throne.
Sarah Culberson had a relatively normal childhood. She was adopted in the United States when she was less than a year old, after Joseph Konia, her biological father, went to the United States for a while to study and fell in love with a waitress who got pregnant. Both weren’t in a position to care for a baby, so they decided to give her up for adoption in 1978, the year she was born. She was raised by a white family in West Virginia, passionate about dance and acting. However, her life would take a huge turn when, at 28, she found out that her mother had passed away 17 years ago, and they’d been looking for her ever since.
Sarah started to research her biological family, an investigation that culminated in a call from an uncle who informed her that her father was still alive and that she was the current heir to the throne of Sierra Leone.
The news changed Sarah forever, as she was forced to become familiar with the reality she’d just found out about. She told NBC that she’d seen everything she knew about princesses in films, but that the reality, at least in her kingdom, was very different. It’s almost impossible to not see the similarity between her story and Disney’s “The Princess Diaries”, the successful film starring Anne Hathaway where a young girl doesn’t know that she’s part of Genovian royalty.
The first thing that struck the then new princess was the state of Sierra Leone’s people. On her first visit in 2004, she saw many children missing limbs, schools in ruins, neighborhoods burnt down or destroyed. This was the reality of her origins.
“It was overwhelming. The reality wasn’t just, ‘I’m coming to meet my family and everything’s perfect.’ It was a reality check. This is what people have been living through. This is my family. How is this princess going to be part of this community and make a difference in the country?”
–Sarah Culberson told NBC–
In that moment, Culberson beyond inheriting great wealth, inherited a great responsibility, which resulted in a series of changes for Sierra Leone’s people that would make the princess work to earn their respect.
The foundation in 2006 of the Sierra Leone Rising Foundation, to build a decent school for students and promote education, the provision of clean water to the area, with the creation of wells for around 12,000 people, and the provision of personal care for menstruating women are just some of the progress Sarah has made.
Today the Princess of Sierra Leone has won the affection of the community, being a ruler who’s close to her people, becoming the voice of her citizens by hosting talks worldwide, seeking partners to help her people’s situation. She recently published a book about her trip to Africa and is already preparing an animated series about her story.
Around 16 years have passed since Culberson’s life was completely transformed. Today, she fights against COVID-19 like everyone else, while simultaneously running companies to create inclusive jobs for her people.