Prince Charles has become somewhat of a fixture in Transylvania, visiting the Szeklerland every year, usually in May. He owns a small house in the picturesque village of Zalánpatak. When there, he will chat with locals, trek across the hilly woods, his walking stick in hand, and, generally speaking, feel at home. He has said that his love for the place may have something to do with his heritage: he is a descendant of the Hungarian Transylvanian Rhédey family, through his Great Grandmother, Queen Mary.
That relaxed mood was disturbed last summer when he offered a video message to Romanians about domestic tourism. The aim was obviously to boost travel to his beloved Transylvania, where many Hungarians live and where guesthouses (including his own in Zalánpatak, and those of my brother Tibor Kálnoky in Miklósvár) were hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in the final version of the video, no reference to Hungarians or Szeklers remained.
That led to a cry of outrage in some Hungarian media. Charles, they argued, had betrayed the spirit of Transylvania, or at least Transylvanian Hungarians. My brother Tibor Kálnoky felt the heat as well: He had hosted the media event introducing the video.
While I cannot go into any details of what had happened, I can confidently say that it had never been Charles’ intention to act as if Hungarians didn’t exist in Transylvania. He has now made that abundantly clear in a new video. The subject, this time, is not touristic but diplomatic: the 140th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the United Kingdom and Romania. The video message praises Romania’s “diversity” (something Romanian politicians tend to mention rather reluctantly) and mentions Hungarian, as well as Széklers - twice. Charles also underlines, as he has many times before, how much he cherishes his ancestry connecting him to the Rhédey family. In his words (italics by me):
I’m quoting this at full length just in case anyone had any doubts about Charles’ feelings for Transylvania’s Szeklers and Hungarians.
The full video is available here (Prince Charles' speech begins at 29:46).
Cover photo: Kátai Edit/MTI