Onlookers were taken aback during Prince Charles' recent visit to Romania when the royal plucked a young schoolboy out of the crowd, and wrapped his arms warmly around him in a big bear hug. It was an incredibly touching moment of genuine affection, and both Charles and the 11-year-old beamed as they embraced in front of a shocked crowd. It has since been revealed that the pair do have a special bond – the child is Valentin Blacker, the son of one of Charles' Etonian friends, whose mother is a Romanian gypsy.
Charles, 68, has known Valentin since he was a toddler, and the pair frequently meet on the Prince's visits to Transylvania. Valentin's father, William Blacker, told the Telegraph that his son is not at all swayed by royal protocol in the same way children in the UK might be. "Valentin is not inhibited by the formalities that a British boy in awe of the royal family would have," he said. "Theirs is a very touching relationship."
Mr Blacker continued: "They get on very well. Valentin is a very effervescent child. He is very full of life and Charles thinks that's great. Charles finds it fascinating that he is half-gipsy. Charles always says to him 'When you are older you will have to take on all these jobs and look after all the old buildings.' Valentin is not shy or withdrawn and he talks to Prince Charles in a very natural way. It's very nice. He's not afraid of hugging Prince Charles and vice versa. Valentin thinks Prince Charles is absolutely marvellous and rather exotic. They have this very fun, easy relationship."
Prince Charles was in Bucharest's Old Town as part of his nine-day tour of Europe when he spotted Valentin. The British royal has travelled to Transylvania on a number of occasions, having dedicated almost 20 years to preserving its heritage and architecture. Charles has previously claimed to be related to Romania's most infamous historical figure, Vlad the Impaler – believed to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula – through his great-grandmother Queen Mary. He has joked in the past that Romania is "in his blood" and at a reception this week told local dignitaries that he "has a stake in Romania".