Prince Charles is Dracula's long-lost cousin? It's true. The environmentally active heir to the British throne says he is related to Vlad Țepeș, also known as Vlad the Impaler, the infamous 15th-century Transylvanian ruler who partially inspired Bram Stoker's famous vampiric creation, "Dracula."
Prince Charles of Wales discusses his kinship in a new documentary, "Wild Carpathia," which will be broadcast in the U.K. on the Travel Channel on Oct. 30, the day before Halloween. In the documentary, the prince tells host Charlie Ottley that he owns several restored properties in Transylvania, now part of Romania, and that genealogists show he is descended from Vlad the Impaler. He tells the host he has "a bit of a stake in the country." (The pun, it seems, is intended.)
The Carpathian mountains — containing the largest unbroken tract of forest in central Europe — are home to bears, wolves, lynx and other species that are at risk in many other areas of the continent. They historically contained the country of Wallachia which, with Transylvania and Moldavia, became modern Romania in the 20th century.
According to the Daily Mail, Romania's forests are now threatened by logging and rapid economic development.
Vlad Țepeș carried the title "Dracula" or "Son of Dracul" (Dragon) after his father, Vlad II, who was a member of the Order of the Dragon, founded by the Holy Roman Empire to defend Wallachia against the Muslim-led Ottoman Empire. Țepeș gained his nickname for his fondness for slaying his enemies (perhaps numbering in the tens of thousands) by slowly impaling them on giant wooden spikes. Despite his brutality, he is revered as a hero in his homeland for protecting his people from the Ottomans.
Bram Stoker incorporated the title "Dracula" and other bits of Vlad the Impaler's legend for his 1897 novel, "Dracula."
Prince Charles is a direct descendent of Mary of Teck, the 19th-century queen consort of the United Kingdom who was descended from Vlad the Impaler's son. According to the Daily Mail, the prince owns at least three properties in Transylvania, including one in the village of Zalanpatak, which was founded by his Transylvanian ancestors.
You can watch the first three minutes of "Wild Carpathia" here:
Incidentally, the famous Castle Dracula still stands, and has become a popular wedding destination for couples interested in paying up to $25,000 a night.