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Prince Charles chooses Dracula over Transylvania

Balázs D. Attila
2020.08.31. 09:30
Prince Charles chooses Dracula over Transylvania

A recently released film exposes the severe memory loss of Prince Charles, the heir apparent to the British throne. Moreover, it is a video about us Hungarians—more specifically, Hungarians from Transylvania. It’s a charming, almost magical video where the Prince tells the story of his Hungarian ancestors, the Rhédey noble family, but without actually even mentioning Hungarians. The silence is as deafening as the quiet that answered the Hungarians in Párkány on June 4th at 16:30 as they waited for the bells of the Esztergom Basilica to toll for a mere 100 seconds on the centennial anniversary of the Trianon peace dictate. And now we’ve received a great dose of “care” from the Prince who not long ago apparently considered Transylvania his second home. But did he actually mean Romania? There’s a big difference.

But what are we even talking about? Oh, just the complete erasure of our nation that has very literally contributed to Romania’s bloated territorial borders of today. It so happened that the aspiring British King undertook the role of narrator for this Romanian image film intended to promote domestic tourism in the Balkan Empire post-coronavirus. In the barely five minute film released a few weeks ago, Prince Charles encourages Romanians (!) to take their vacations in Romania. In the video, titled, “HRH Prince Charles’ message of support for Romanian Tourism”, Romania managed to have the Prince of Wales entirely ignore his Transylvanian-Hungarian roots, that is, the Count Rhédey family; in fact he did not utter a single word regarding the Szeklerland (Székelyföld) that cherishes him so – though there was ample opportunity. As a matter of fact, the “prince” has created an oasis for himself in the small Hungarian village of Zalánpatak (Valea Zălanului) in the Háromszék county where he retreats from the world for a week each year; the sincerity of the Prince’s awe of the near-untouched landscape of Transylvania has been captured on numerous occasions. Once, he even declared in an interview that Transylvania may be the key to saving the planet because its’ locals live in such harmony with nature. Well, could this region, detached from Hungary, that has suffered so much, have a better friend than the Prince?

Our Charles first appeared in Transylvania twenty years ago. Since then he has bought multiple properties, not only in the southern part of Szeklerland but also in Brasov (Brassó) county too. His foundations are active in the region as well. The Prince’s biggest helper is his distant relative, Count Tibor Kálnoky, the descendant of the famous Transylvanian family whose Miklósvár Castle has hosted the likes of Princes Harry and William. Five years ago, Prince Charles revealed to a Daily Mail reporter, “I love Romania, but don’t forget that I have a great-great grandmother from Transylvania.” That’s the spirit, make sure you hold them accountable—that’s the kind of British aristocrat we want as an ally! At least that’s what we thought.

We were wrong. In just five minutes Prince Charles sold his loyalty to Bucharest. It seems that the Romanians’ feverish love and praise for the monarchy, the honorary doctoral degree awarded to Prince Charles from the Babes-Bolyai University, and the Grand Cross Rank of the Order of the Star of Romania that he got as well, have been effective. While the Prince received the highest level of this award, László Tőkés’ much lower rank of this distinction was scandalously withdrawn from him a couple years ago. Yet, if he hadn’t existed, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this article because there wouldn’t have been a revolution – and maybe “Printul Charles” never would’ve visited Transylvania nor Romania.

And now this British Crown Prince boasts that he is Vlad the Impaler’s – otherwise known as Dracula’s – descendant. Well where did the Rhédey family suddenly disappear to your Highness? Where has your great-great grandmother, Count Klaudia Rhédey of Erdőszentgyörgy, vanished to now that the winds blow from Bucharest? In the film, the Prince of Wales also delves into the unparalleled historical legacy of Romania – but with as much perspective and nuance as a haphazard, narrow-minded tourist from somewhere far in the West, who has no idea by what atrocious schemes the state managed to scrounge together these additional territories. And this Royal individual has been visiting the Carpathians for over twenty years… During this time, not a single person offered him some enlightenment on what exactly Romania did to the Hungarian aristocracy in the region? After all, these are his own ancestors! Or perhaps he doesn’t know about the institutionalized anti-Hungarian sentiment in Romania that comes even from the mouth of the country’s president? Or maybe he’s saluting Klaus Iohannis as he describes the Saxon fortified churches in the film? What happened to Zalánpatak? It may be just a small little village in Háromszék, but given that it’s his revered hamlet, it should have at least been mentioned. Or perhaps Bucharest censored this out?

As the British heir to the throne appeased the deeply Balkan country, he elaborated on the beautiful natural landscapes as well as the rich museums of Bucharest, and the Dacian and Greek forts – but there was not a mention of the Hungarian-built heritage of Transylvania that dropped into Romania’s lap after Trianon. In his defense, the Kálnoky Castle in Miklósvár was depicted in the video for a second but was not accompanied by any sort of description. Alright fine, but really, how does this relatively small abode compare to the St. Michael (Szent Mihály) Church in Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár), or the fort in Oradea (Nagyvárad), or the shrines and churches in Csíksomlyó and Máriaradna, or the Europa Nostra Cultural Heritage site, Torockó? Other candidates could include Timisoara (Temesvár) seen as “multicultural” by Romanians – or Fogarasvár which are also awe-inspiring sites, but Bucharest long-ago took care to make sure that Romanian citizens aren’t reminded of the noble Hungarian Apafi family in connection with this ancient fortress, but rather voivode Mihai Viteazul who briefly got his foot in the door here. This Transylvanian location did not end up in the film by accident, and it wasn’t presented as Hungarian, just as Gyulafehérvár’s fortress has also transformed into the symbolic “Alba Iulia”, the official Capital of the Great Union of Romania based on December 1, 1918’s events. The film implies throughout that there are fortresses built by Romanians in Transylvania – a disgraceful falsification of history.

And by the way, what country is the British Prince referring to when he describes the “the huge wealth of natural and cultural diversity under a single flag…”? What is this silliness? With this much energy they could’ve hired a Romanian politician, or even a narrow-minded Brussels bureaucrat who flees from the word “autonomy” like a vampire from garlic. But Romanians love these very nonsensical messages in order to nurture their marred conscience; Bucharest uses these exact mantras in all their existing official tourism catalogues—especially those that should be about Transylvania. In these catalogues, there is not a single image of Szekler (Székely), Țara Călatei (Kalotaszeg), Sic (Szék), or Rimetea (Torockó) traditional dress, just as any imagery of local Hungarians was foregone in the film. But who wants to take part in this patchwork of falsifications meant for “internal affairs”? Not to mention that, aside from the most populous Hungarian minority, numerous other minorities were left out of the frames of the Romanian ego trip video.

After all this, the question is: is His Majesty aware how deeply disdained he will be by the Hungarian people after this little five-minute, reputation-building video? It’s also disheartening that Count Kálnoky was a partner in all of this. According to MTI, the short film was screened in front of journalists at the Prince’s Szekler residence at the beginning of August; the Count, who also frequently hosts the British Royal, organized the event in partnership with the Covasna County Council.

His Royal Highness! After this cleverly cut film, did you perhaps ponder moving your “Romanian” headquarters to Wallachia (Havasalföld)? Maybe to Targoviste, where your infamous ancestor Vlad the Impaler organized multiple impalement shows? Or maybe the Danube Delta area, where to this day, unadulterated, exemplary slums can be found. This is also Romanian “heritage preservation” at its best. Or maybe you weren’t informed of this, only about the unique wetlands? Yet alongside the pelicans, Lipovans live there too. As you should know, this minority is as Romanian as the Romanian-Hungarians who, along with everybody and anybody, all live “under a single flag”, watching this film just as you have conjured in your imagination.

Dearest Prince: for one hundred years we’ve been watching an entirely different film than what Bucharest is currently trying to force on us. So, thank you for your honesty but at the same time we would like to encourage you to not waste any more time on us—in fact you really never have to mention us again if it is such a burden. Dance the Romanian hora, feed your foundation, and we will also let the Rhédey-Windsor bloodline slip from our memories.

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