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News 17 Mar 17

UK Prince to Woo Romania Amid Brexit Talks

Decision to include Romania in major European royal charm offensive suggests UK Foreign Office has its eye on Bucharest as a regional ally.

Marcus Tanner
BIRN
London
Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales. Photo by ChrisO

As Britain tries to soften up its European partners ahead of the start of tough Brexit negotiations, the UK government is deploying one of its trustiest weapons – the royal family.

A clutch of princes and duchesses will be fanning out over much of the European continent from late March to July, including the Balkans, in what ministers hope will be a successful demonstration of British “soft power”.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, will be covering Romania, Italy, Vatican state and Austria, with Romania slotted in between March 29 and 31.

Charles, an old hand in Romania, will be delighted to be back in an official capacity in a country that he privately visits almost every year and where he owns property and runs a foundation.

The decision to prioritise Romania over other regional states in the tour, such as old ally Greece, suggests Britain views Bucharest as one of the friendliest and most reliable Balkan countries from a UK point of view. The two countries see eye to eye on NATO and Russia for a start.

While Charles glad-hands Romanians, Austrians, Italians and the Pope, his son, Prince William and consort, the Duchess of Cambridge, will meanwhile [hopefully] wow crowds in France before later, in July, moving on to Poland and Germany.

The announcement of the exercise in royal diplomacy comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to invoke Article 50 in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the process that will start a two-year disengagement from the EU, which Britain joined [as the EEC] back in 1973.

French political magazine Le Point, cited by the BBC, said William and the Duchess of Cambridge were seen as supplying “the weapon of glamour against a hard Brexit” and described the visit as an attempt “to mitigate” the effect of the Brexit row on Europe.

Britain’s royals and their dethroned Romanian counterparts are closely related. Last Romanian sovereign Michael’s grandmother, Marie, was a [favourite] cousin of Britain’s King George V.

But Charles’ passion for Romania has more to do with its unspoiled countryside and rustic villages than with old dynastic ties.

The Prince has bought several properties in formerly Saxon villages in Transylvania, which he rents out when not staying in them himself.

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