By Damien Gayle
October 27, 2011
Prince Charles is campaigning to save the forests of Transylvania, inspired by his ancestral links to Vlad the Impaler, the 15th century nobleman better known by his patronym, Dracula.
Rapid economic growth in Romania - which is now part of the EU - means that the forests of the Carpathian Mountains are under threat from development and logging.
The Prince is calling for the forests, some of the last untouched wilderness areas in Europe, to be protected before they are lost, like the woodland that once covered Britain.
He claims a family connection to the area through Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, who earned the sobriquet Vlad the Impaler thanks to his favoured method of torture and execution.
The 15th century nobleman, notorious for his bloodthirsty campaigns against the Ottomans and fierce repression of his people, is a distant ancestor of Charles's great-grandmother, Queen Mary.
The total number of his victims is estimated in the tens of thousands, many killed by being impaled on huge metal stakes.
His reputation for cruelty is said to have helped inspire Bram Stoker's diabolical villain, Count Dracula.
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