– The Prince of Wales’s 10-year battle to protect Dracula’s home and his yearning for Transylvania (Daily Mail, Oct. 29, 2011):
The last thing I expected was for Prince Charles to crack a joke about being descended from Dracula.
But when I spoke to him for my new TV show Wild Carpathia, he told me he can trace his ancestry back, through his great-grandmother Queen Mary, to the half-brother of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula. Prince Charles seemed quite amused by his dark lineage.
A friend took him to visit the monastery, near Bucharest, where Vlad is buried and showed him his grave. ‘So I do have a bit of a stake in the country,’ he joked. Prince Charles has been visiting Transylvania – the home of his infamous ancestor – for more than a decade and feels passionately that it’s the last corner of Europe where there’s still a real balance between mankind and nature.
And it needs to be preserved, not just for its incredible biodiversity but because it nourishes the soul. To visit Transylvania (part of modernday Romania) and the Carpathian mountains is to enter a time warp. It’s one of the last great wildernesses in Europe, where bears, wolves and lynx roam a medieval land in which farmers and shepherds live as they’ve done for hundreds of years. Prince Charles has fallen in love with this place, and so have I.