Letters From London
Humorous Views on London Culture, Royals, Gossip and Politics
Putting His Money Where His House Is - 4 October 2006

The Prince of Transylvania? So Charles is not merely The Prince of Wales then. Whilst Chas the
Spoilt may be centuries from Vlad the Impaler, genealogists have traced Charles’ bloodline, as it
were, to the other prince. Well, well. Quite the well-kept secret. All along we had thought the ex-
Tory leader, Michael Howard was the only one who “had something of the night about him”.

PC is moving closer to his roots by putting down roots: he’s buying a single-storey ruined
farmhouse in the town of Viscri complete with a cobbled courtyard and pens for chickens, pigs,
goats. No cows? Marie Antoinette would be so disappointed. Pinafores for peasants? The to-be-
let most of the year farmhouse was built in the early 1800’s according to a dwelling plan from his
next of kin, Vlad’s epoch .

PC has retreated to this preserved medieval existence four times in four years. On one visit,
while having a royal picnic (ah, shades of Maria Antoinette yet again?) a horseman galloped up
through a clearing and threw himself at the prince’s titled feet. Our prince’s bodyguards leapt up
to save Charles from an impending death by smothering. Halt! Away with those swords! The
humble villager merely wanted to pay homage in the only manner he knew: medieval. Perchance
the prince was heard to say: “Mi casa es su casa…I mean su casa es mi casa.”

The village itself is closer to the 14th century than the twenty-first; horse and cart is the method
of transportation. Local councillor and one of the twenty-five descendents of the original Saxon
settlers: “If we can bring more people to invest and spend money here it will help the local
people stay.” Exactly how far do we think they could actually go on an old horse drawn cart?
Certainly not to the UK. Conservatives are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of an imminent
Roma invasion with their EU membership in January. The local councillor continued: “We have
something very special which you in England have lost. It is in our architecture and in our
environment.” Hmmm. So tourist mecca medieval York is an illusion? A hologram? Well, I for one
was completely fooled.

There are obvious advantages with the arrival of royal favour: the locals will learn how to bow
and curtsey, tourists will flock, and the building of the Draculaland theme park will be thwarted.
Charles The Scribbler wrote to the Romanian president to state his opposition. ‘Stop all future
blood-thirst…be it blood-red candyfloss, ice cream or popcorn. ‘

Chas put pen to paper after one of his visits: “I was deeply impressed by the natural beauty and
cultural richness of what I saw. The area represents a lost past for most of us – a past in which
villages were intimately linked to their landscape.” I’m imagining tree houses or maybe caves. It
appears that our prince will break with local convention by having a bath and an inside lavatory.
So much for authenticity; royal roots prevail.

From The Impaler to The Inhaler: Chas discovers Bob Marley. No more card playing unemployed
Jamaicans sharing sizeable spliffs. No more marauding gun toting gangs shooting with buoyant  
abandon. PC has plans to clean up a Yardie ghetto in Jamaica that was home to Marley.
Concrete apartment blocks in Trenchtown will be replaced by idyllic traditional lime-washed
bungalows housing 3,000, enveloped by swaying palms. An estate agent claims: “The place has
the worst crime rate in Kingston….the place looks like a war zone.”

The project is PC’s first big venture abroad after his bizarrely successful fantasy world of urban
planning – Poundbury in Dorset – where deliriously happy Brits live in delightful cooperative bliss.
And then there are the rest of us, excluding the massive property owning landed gentry of
course, facing  unavailable affordable housing for first time buyers with frenzied, spiralling house
prices forecast to increase yet another 30% within the next 5 years. How is that possible? Prices
have already doubled, tripled in the last 5 years. Less than 10% of the country is built on, while
89% live in densely packed towns and cities. Pigs, goats, carts, outhouses…cart me off…I’m
turning up the collar on my long black cape with the red satin lining concealing my Laura Ashley
pinny as I write.