#RoyalVisitRomania: Charles meets old friends, receives Romanian award & visits Patriarchal Cathedral

It has been a busy three days for The Prince of Wales on the first section of his European visit. Charles arrived into Bucharest on Wednesday, where he was met by a guard of honour before visiting the tomb of the unknown soldier in the centre of the Romanian capital.

Korona Lacasse https://www.flickr.com/photos/korona4reel/14226496274/in/set-72157649042419698

Prince Charles spent 3 days in Romania. Korona Lacasse

Prince Charles is undertaking a lengthy tour of Europe, now joined in Italy by his wife, Camilla, as something of a Brexit offensive as negotiations begin in Brussels.

A former soldier himself, Charles laid a wreath at the tomb and met British troops who are based at the NATO command in the Eastern European country.

Shortly after, Charles travelled to Cotroceni Palace to meet President Iohannis where the Prince was awarded the Order of the Star of Romania, this highest civilian honour available in Romania, in recognition of Charles’ commitment to the country and its people: the Prince has land holdings in the country, which he visits annually, and also works with some local charities.

Upon receiving the honour Charles gave a speech:

I cannot tell you how deeply touched and grateful I am to receive from Your Excellency the Order of the Star of Romania.  I shall treasure this honour as a special symbol of my great affection for Romania and her people and of the warm relationship between our two countries.

Mr. President, all I have wanted to do over the past nearly twenty years, since I was first came here, has been to help to remind Romanians of the uniqueness of their culture, their heritage and their architecture – and, above all, of their potential in today’s world.  I remember being deeply affected by all that the Romanian people had had to endure under the post-war regime, and by the damage done at that time in human and cultural terms.  I have also tried to signal the importance of Romania’s pristine forests – utterly unique in Europe – and, equally, of your country’s family farmers who form such an integral part of your rural communities and your landscapes.

Throughout these years, I have been proud to be the Patron of FARA (which, as you know, only too well,
Mr. President, means “without” in Romanian) and its work to provide a family life for some of Romania’s most vulnerable children without a stable and caring home of their own.

I have also been so pleased to be able to create my own Foundation in Romania, working in particular with rural communities and providing training courses to men and women from right across the country, to help build their skills and knowledge and thus greatly to enhance their opportunity to set up a small business of their own.

Over the past two years, my Romanian Foundation has provided training for 120 local people and architects. We have also launched a programme to encourage the production of traditional textiles through training women in stitching, lacing and embroidery.  The training and confidence they gained has enabled seven of them to work this year with a Romanian fashion designer for a new collection inspired by Romanian traditions.  Our students are now earning today two or three times more, thanks to the training received and opportunities offered as a result.  My dearest hope is that our next phase will be able to help small farmers to enhance the quality of their products still further and, of course, opportunities for their sale.

Let me conclude, Mr. President, by renewing my warmest thanks and deepest appreciation for the great honour that you have bestowed on me today.  It means a great deal to me to have built a special partnership with Romania.  I know the United Kingdom has also built a very deep and special partnership with your country and I know that will endure, as will my own.

Day 2:

On the second day of his visit to Romania, The Prince of Wales visited the Village Museum and enjoyed taking part in local traditions, including taking part in a local dance called the Hora, where he linked arms women from the Bucharest-based Burnasul ensemble and danced around in circles.

The Prince of Wales also met with Sorin Grindeanu, Prime Minister of Romania, during a meeting in Bucharest.

On his way to meet Patriarch Daniel, head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Royal guest stopped off at a Communist leisure park to visit a man-made lake and the local wildlife. Vacaresti Nature Park bases its wetlands programme on the model of the London Wetland Centre to encourage wildlife and diversity.

A supporter of inter-faith dialogue, Charles spent time in the beautiful Patriarchal Cathedral.

Towards the end of the second day, Charles visited the base of the FARA Foundation, a British charity of which the Prince has been patron for 16 years, which takes care of vulnerable and traumatised Romanian children. A girl named Antonia Paduraru, who is at housed with her younger sister by the charity, stood on her tiptoes to give Charles a kiss and some flowers.

Charles also met with the Romanian Royal Family, Crown Princess Margareta and Prince Radu, where he had tea with them. Queen Anne died in August, but King Michael is in his 90s, also suffering with cancer. Romania is a republic but the remaining members of the family are still accorded status in the country.

To end the day, the Prince visited the British Embassy in Bucharest, where he had organised a reception to discuss modern slavery through the Prince’s Foundation, which mainly focuses on architectural preservation and farming in the country.

Day 3

On the busy final day of #RoyalVisitRomania, Charles visited Bucharest’s Old Town, taking in Manuc’s, one of Europe’s oldest inns, the 15th century Old Princely Court built by his ancestor Vlad the Impaler, and the 18th century Stavropoleos Church with its intricately painted ceiling mural.

Charles spotted Valentin Blacker, the son of an old Etonian and whose mother is a Romanian gipsy. He hugged the boy, who seemed pleased to see the Prince, whom he has known since he was just a few years old.

Before heading to the airport, the Prince stopped off at the National Theatre of Bucharest to watch a performance and meet staff and drama students.

He also visited Hospices of Hope, a charity celebrating its 25th anniversary of providing quality care for terminally ill patients and their families from Romania and surrounding countries. Charles is passionate about charities that make life easier and more comfortable for those in need.

The Prince’s final stop before heading to Italy to continue his European visit with Camilla, was at the PACT Foundation, a local community initiative in Vizuresti village which was established to support disadvantaged areas in the country.

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