Bunhill: A prince among men not his own

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The Independent Online
PRINCE Paul of Romania had the decorators in last week - to his new one-bedroomed flat in Chelsea.

It is hard not to feel sorry for a man whose father, Prince Carol, is heir to the Romanian throne, who keeps the royal family archives in a bank vault because there is no room in his flat and, when he visits Romania, tours magnificent palaces that would once have been home - and yet works tirelessly on his country's behalf.

He will shortly launch the Prince Paul Foundation for Romania, and he hopes to persuade British businesses to invest in his homeland.

We met in his flat, amid portraits of former kings and present princes but not the current monarch, Geneva-based King Michael.

'There was a row between Michael and my father, I have never met him or spoken to him,' said the Millfield-educated Paul.

His family left Romania in 1947 and until recently he spent most of his time in Paris. He does not want to reclaim his inheritance - not yet anyway - although he would like 'one of the family houses back, just as a base'.

The business opportunities in Romania, he claimed, are immense. 'We were the first country to export oil in the world, the first to invent a device for stopping oil-fires. We're the second-biggest European producer of wheat., We have aluminium and gold mines, and the fourth or fifth biggest merchant fleet in the world.' Once he starts, it is hard to stop him.

'If you go there, you don't see people dying of hunger, you see people living happily off the land. We make excellent smoked cheeses and fine wines - you can buy our Cabernet Sauvignon in supermarkets - and beers. We've got good hotels - four or five in Bucharest and 40 to 50 in the Black Sea resorts - and you can hire a car in Romania now.'

One abiding regret is that his British relations, the Windsors, don't want to know. After all, Queen Victoria was his grandmother's grandmother and it was only bad luck that forced his family to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could happen to our own Queen one day . . .

(Photograph omitted)