13 MAY 2008
Prince Charles had the opportunity to revisit little-known ancestral ties on a recent trip to Romania. The heir to the throne, whose great grandfather's cousin Marie married the crown prince of Romania and went on to rule the country with her husband after WWI, visited several villages in the country's Transylvania region. There he told local journalists: "Transylvania is in my blood. I have family connections here and that's why I am very interested in this region."
And the 59-year-old royal's interest goes beyond family links. He has been instrumental in injecting new life into the area - buying several properties in the 12th-century Saxon village of Viscri, 250km north of Bucharest. He's also involved in several ecological farming projects and in the regeneration of the historic centre of neighbouring Sibiu city.
Both communities were on the Prince's schedule for this trip - his sixth in the last ten years. After checking out progress in areas he's been working hard to preserve and protect, Charles travelled to the quaint Transylvanian village of Miclosoara, where he stayed in an 18th-century manor belonging to a representative of one of the region's oldest families.
Count Tibor Kalnoky, who has been supervising the restoration of Charles' properties, opened his family home as a series of guesthouses in 2004 to help the region's development. Visitors, who frequently include European diplomats and aristocrats, arrive by horse and cart at the lodges nestled at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Count Kalnoky began restoring the estate to its former glory in 1987 after returning from America where his family had fled during WWI.