Britain’s King Charles III was received with military honours at Romania’s presidential palace in Bucharest on Friday, as he kicked off his solo visit in the eastern European country.
The anthems of Great Britain and Romania sounded out as the country’s President Klaus Iohannis, who attended Charles’ coronation in London last month, welcomed the newly crowned king.
The meet-and-greet on the red carpet was followed by a reception attended by about 300 people, including several government officials and civil society members.
Charles’ trip to Romania is his first abroad since he was crowned king on May 6.
“The King has begun his first overseas visit since his coronation, travelling to Romania for a private solo stay in the country’s Transylvanian region,” according to Buckingham Palace.
“It is not known how long Charles will spend in Romania,” it added.
At the reception, Charles said he has “always felt rather at home in Romania” in a possible reference to his links to infamous Vlad the Impaler through his great-grandmother Queen Mary.
“I’ve come to love Romania: your culture and art, your heritage and history, your sweeping landscapes and priceless biodiversity,” he said, addressing the attendees in Romanian at times.
The royal environmentalist praised Romania for still being “home to many species of flora and fauna that have disappeared or are threatened elsewhere in Europe and the world.”
President Iohannis credited the king’s renovation efforts in Romania with making locals realise “how precious traditions, customs and crafts passed down from generations are”.
– Unwinding in Transylvania –
The official program includes meetings with Romanian state authorities, civil society representatives and its diplomatic corps, according to the Romanian presidency.
After Bucharest, Charles is expected to travel to rural Transylvania, a region where he owns a number of properties and has often visited in the past.
Charles is expected to spend several days in the bucolic region, first heading to the village of Valea Zalanului and wrapping up his trip in the hamlet of Viscri.
Viscri won the heart of the then prince Charles when he first visited in 1998.
The house he bought there in 2006 was initially an occasional princely residence but has been transformed into a museum dedicated to botany.
In the run-up to the visit, royal correspondents pointed out that the king is going to be away when Prince Harry returns to the UK next week to give evidence in a phone-hacking trial against a tabloid publisher. — Agence France-Presse